During his visit to Cuba in 2012, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: “The capitalist system is in decay,” and that it has “come to a dead end – politically, economically, and culturally”.
But changes taking place in Iran over the past few years seem to contradict this.
Despite slow mobile internet connections, high prices for consumer electronics and tight government censorship of the media, Iranians are frantically buying smartphones, tablets, and flat-screen TVs.
For many young people, shopping has become a near-obsessive ritual. Although traditional bazaars remain the favourite places to shop for most Iranians, they now face stiff competition from huge shopping malls all across the country.
Analyst Richard Javad Heydarian recently described Iran as “one of the most promising economies of the 21st century – and perhaps the next China”, portraying the country as an awakening lion. In the past few months, relations between Iran and the West have warmed, and negotiations to lift sanctions could pave the way for even more changes.