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Tehran's Milad Tower — Photo: Hamed Saber

Tehran's northern suburbs, in the foothills of the Alborz mountains, used to be a summer refuge from the heat of downtown Tehran, mainly for their numerous gardens and abundant trees.

The rich used to live there before 1979, and some still do. But over the past 20 years or so, the gardens have gone — as have most of the trees — and given way to a jungle of high-rise buildings comparable to any megalopolis. The Islamic Republic of Iran's super rich now live on the top floors of the highest towers in northern Tehran, where they can breathe the cleaner air for which they have paid exorbitant amounts.

But these towers, some of which were built with scant regard for the city's building norms, have exacerbated the capital's already abundant dust particles and air pollution.

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Photo: Skyscrapercity

"Every hectare of woodland absorbs 7 to 7.5 tons of dust every year," reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd quoted environmental advisor Esma'il Kahrom as saying. "Now in Tehran, we have replaced this plant cover with buildings. Tehran has faced an environmental crisis for a long time now. It has become a glass and steel jungle. It is not as attractive as it was before."

Not only do buildings not absorb the particles in the air, but building material such as cement actually generates dust, Tehran engineering consultant Mehdi Hashemzadeh told the newspaper.

Kahrom implied that the decline in quality of life could finally put an end to the building frenzy, as most of the more recent buildings have had difficulty finding customers.

"When Tehran becomes less desirable, demand will fall," he says. "When someone makes a building and then finds 60% of it is empty, he'll stop building high-rise towers."

Speculative land use isn't just a Tehran problem. Government news agency IRNA reported separately recently about the "mushrooming villas that swallow the gardens of Hamadan," a western city that Iran's environmental protection agency describes as "the green city," so far anyway.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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