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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kish Island

    Have you ever heard of Kish Island? Until today I had not. It is a small island in the Persian Gulf and belongs to our good friend Iran.

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    Remember when we went to "war" with Iraq? One of the theories being kicked around for that debacle was that Saddam was threatening to start selling oil using some other currency than the U.S. dollar. The phrase I recall was that "while Saddam was a son-of-a-bitch, he is our son-of-a-bitch", but when he threatened to go off the dollar standard, why, he was a mad dog who had slipped his leash and had to be put down.
    Meanwhile back at the ranch, daring daughter is bound and determined to return to Argentina, and the economy down there is a little shaky, though it doesn't seem to be deteriorating as quickly as I expected. So I am trying to explain a bit about economics (which should be right up my alley since it's all voodoo anyway) which leads me to a series of Wikipedia articles which ends up at the Iranian oil bourse, which is on Kish Island.
    Now I am wondering which came first, the oil bourse (commodity market) or our mutual enmity?

    Looking for more info on Kish, I found this bit by Carolyn McIntyre from 2007:

Kish is a duty-free port and was a pet project of the Shah. It has a completely different look to the rest of Iran and looks more like a low-rise Arab Gulf city minus the SUV’s, Mercedes, BMW’s, Audis, and with nary a Cartier, Bulgari, Bang & Olufsen, Versace, Louis Vuitton or Gucci logo or storefront in sight. There is not a brick building to be seen, and everything is glass and poured concrete, shiny, clean and full of advertisements. After the Revolution nothing much happened in Kish – Iranians still go to shop but not in the numbers they used to, and the cost of living is more expensive than the rest of the country.

A portion of the renovated qanat system. 

The next day we went to visit the over-renovated castle of Harireh with Koran-reciting loudspeakers in the trees, a visit which could easily be skipped. A large sign there proclaims how Ibn Battuta, “the Great Historian in his Travel Account” wrote about the “success and glory of Harireh and Kish Island” – not in the English version he didn’t…… We then went to the restored water cisterns, which in contrast was an excellent and worthwhile trip – 15 kilometers of tunnels with 275 wells built of layers of shell and clay to purify the water.

As we were touring the cisterns, the guide received a phone call – our flight, which was scheduled to depart at 1900, had been delayed to 2200. Just when I thought nothing else could possibly go wrong……I suggested to him that we go to the airport and try to find another flight since if anything happened we would be stuck in Kish for another night. Kish is one of the dreariest, most boring places on earth and Tehran had begun to take on the allure of a glittering, electrifying metropolis which under normal circumstances, it is not. There being at least 6 other flights before our delayed flight, I bought 2 tickets on the first available flight out - we were the last passengers to get on board the Taban Air Tupolev 154. I was never so happy to see Tehran in my life. Only Tabriz was left. Ibn Battuta had gone to Tabriz from Baghdad – as this was not possible for me I was going from Tehran, a city that did not even exist in his day but which now has a population of approximately 10 million.

Tourist Map of Kish.

Update: A story from 2006 in the Christian Science Monitor about the Iranian Oil Bourse.

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