Saturday, March 29, 2008
The Nowrooz holidays are still underway. Millions of Iranians are travelling they have taken to the roads, railways and airways and are touring throughout the country. Some are also travelling abroad . In 2005, more than 30 million people had travelled in the country during Nowrooz. I suppose it is much higher now. Along with the family we went to Mashhad to visit relatives and for paying a visit to Imam Reza , the eighth descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.(SA) According to official estimates more than 5 million pilgrims had visited Mashad during the first week of the holidays. The Governor was heard over the radio asking people not to come to the city due to the shortage of services that could be provided!
The city has grown significantly during recent years but opportunities for travelling and tourism and standards of living have also improved leaving expectations much higher. The city is both an attraction for pilgrims but also for shopping as well. Large malls and super markets as well as department stores, parks and other attractions have popped up in the city. Agricultural and industrial activity has boomed during the past decades in the suburban areas. However, water shortage is a major limiting factor for such activity in most eastern parts of Iran.
Mashad is only one of the 9 or 10 mega cities that have emerged during the past decade in Iran . Actually the country’s demographics have changed drastically from a village based society to one where the majority now, over 60%, live in cities and megacities. This however can be considered as a step forward in the development process only if indicators of human and social development improve in parallel . In reality , these indicators, specifically those related to primary health care, nutrition, primary ,secondary and tertiary education, have improved significantly , yet we still have a long way ahead. The major challenge we face today is in the economy and creating new jobs for over 700,000 people every year, that is a difficult job isn’t it?