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Luxury Car Rentals Booming In Tehran

TEHRAN — Sanctions or not, there are some very rich people in Iran — often engaged in business deals that benefit somebody linked to state power. Like anywhere else, the wealthy need to find ways to spend their money, and figure out how to get there.

Renting luxury cars like a Porsche has become one way of ridding oneself of unwanted cash, in spite of restrictions on many imports and particularly of luxury cars, the semi-official Mehr agency reported on Oct. 30.

The restrictons, it stated, were partly to "prevent fomenting class divisions" and also stop foreign currency being misspent. Yet these cars — and practically anything else money can buy — are imported into Iran and flaunted in the capital of a nation that rose in revolution 40 years back to bring the "poor and the oppressed" to power.

Mehr cited emblematic streets of northern Tehran like Fereshteh, where the rich have apartments, Parkway nearby and Niavaran, where the Shah used to live, as "meeting places" of cars "that cost as much as a house."

A rental agent told Mehr that for some models, customers had to leave a property deed as deposit before renting. He said "we don't rent out cars for weddings, as the flowers might damage the cars," while a network of collaborators ensured that "we can provide any car the customer asks for."

Prices cited included the equivalent of around $440 dollars a day for a Porsche Boxter 2012, and about $740 for a Mercedes E350.

Iranians love foreign goods, one more reason many, both inside and outside the country, are hoping negotiations this month on its nuclear program could lead to an end of UN sanctions. If that happens, who knows what could come rolling down the streets of North Tehran.

— Ahmad Shayegan

Photo: Komeil

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