When Turkish reporters asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently what impact international sanctions were having on Iran, he replied, “What sanctions are you talking about? If you come to Iran today, people will tell you that sanctions have had no impact on their lives or on their country’s development.”
Yet even to the casual observer, the effect of sanctions on the Iranian economy is made only too obvious by the distinct lack of commercial advertising around the capital.
Only a few years ago, billboards across the city advertised Swiss watches and other luxury goods from Europe and beyond. It was all part of a drive by the mayor’s office in the early 1990s to earn revenues from the newly-allowed import market, and also to brighten the city up after the gloom of the eight-year war with Iraq.
These days, much of the advertising space along major thoroughfares is empty. As further sanctions were added last year, many foreign investors began pulling out, even if the measures did not directly affect their business.