In an interview with Hamshahri newspaper, the Austrian ambassador to Iran, Stefan Scholz, gave a new account of life in Tehran.
He said about urban life in Tehran: Tehran is a lively city. It has a big population which is almost twice the total population of Austria. Culture is alive in this city. I have sat in the Vahdat Hall many times to watch concerts; Concerts that start at 9 to 9:30 pm and continue until midnight. This timing is not very common in Europe. The old buildings in Tehran that have been renovated and made available to the public are really attractive. Some of them are cafe and have space for reading books, they are doubly attractive.
The Austrian ambassador uses the public transportation system to get around Tehran and says: The metro system in Tehran is excellent. Before the corona outbreak, my wife and I used the subway a lot. Tehran Metro has facilitated access to different parts of the city and is still developing. Special bus lines are also great. Once last year, my wife and I decided to take the metro from Tajrish to Imam Khomeini Airport. It was an interesting experience.
However, he considers the unpleasant part of life in Tehran to be traffic: there are days when, for example, I have three meetings in different parts of Tehran and then I count and see that I have been in the car for 6 hours. Lately, the situation may have improved, but really, if I want to answer your question, I have to say traffic. It is difficult to plan meetings.
Walk to Tajrish
"Our house is near Tajrish," Scholz said of wandering in the city. My wife and I often walk to Tajrish Square. Tajrish market is very attractive. Whenever we had guests they found Tajrish and its bazaar and the lovely shrine next to the bazaar interesting. We also frequently go, on foot, to Darband and Darakeh (two recreational resorts in northern Tehran) as well as Saadabad Palace and Niavaran Palace Museum, but by car. You know, Tehran is one of the few capitals in the world where a mountain range stretches right in front of the city. On weekends you can go to the mountains easily and in the shortest possible time. In the city center, our choice is definitely the artists' park. Valiasr Street is also a very good place for walking.
He considers Tehran as a city on the path of modernization while preserving the traditional texture and says: I must say that I have witnessed rapid modernization in Tehran. The use of modern technologies in urban life in Tehran is very evident. Online shopping has grown a lot. Many things that exist here are not possible at all in our country; It is enough that there are cumbersome rules and regulations. The revolution that has taken place in the field of information and communication technologies here is very significant.
I sometimes ask Austrian firms if they have seen this application. It is easy to buy something or send something somewhere. We bought potatoes from a farmer around Tehran. He brought a POS machine and we made the payment easily with our bank card.
Hanachi Wants to Be a Role Model for the People
The Austrian ambassador to Iran also said about the cycling culture in Tehran: The mayor of Tehran is very committed to the development of cycling culture and this has been very interesting for me. In Tehran, like in Vienna, bicycle lanes have been built on some streets, and this will definitely help with the use of bicycles. This car-free Tuesday campaign, which I have joined several times with Mr. Hanachi, is a very appropriate initiative.
"Everybody sees the mayor cycling once a week," says Scholz, who sees the campaign as a success. Old and young come with him. In my opinion, Mr. Hanachi's move in the car-free Tuesday campaign has been very courageous. Well, he wants to be a role model for people. When you do this once or twice a year, it can be said that it is only for political gesture, but when you ride a bike on all Tuesdays for a year, it means you have something to say. Many may say it is a political gesture. Not here, in Europe they may say the same thing. But Mr. Hanachi's perseverance has been very important to me. I myself once went to see the mayor by bicycle. Honestly I did not pedal to the mayor's office in the city center, but I really got out of the car somewhere in the city center and went to the mayor's office by bicycle. I think both Vienna and Tehran are on the right track in promoting cycling culture.
"I think this is a comprehensive approach to urban management," he said of the urban management approach to creating a human-centered city. In a report, I sent this approach of Tehran Municipality to the city's development plans to Vienna. This experience can be useful for us as well. Knowing that stakeholders are involved in planning means that you are planning for them. Asking people what do you want from me? You ask me how to run this metropolis? The idea of coming out of the heart of the city and becoming an expert and eventually implementing it will be successful. We must not forget that steadfastness is the key to success. Taking one approach this year and another next year, well, will eventually be the same policies that others do.
Discover the Borders of Tehran
According to the Austrian Ambassador to Iran the mayor of Tehran is not a politician in the usual sense; it is the architecture that now dominates the city. You know, architecture is the core of urban life; the kind of architecture that cares first and foremost about the health of its citizens. If you ask me, in the context of this human-centered management, what is your advice for a metropolitan administration like Tehran, I would say understand the borders of Tehran. It must be specified where the last urban building to be built is; that is to know where the city ends and where nature begins. Finally, somewhere in this city must end. The people of Tehran need to know psychologically where they leave the city and where they enter nature. For example, in my opinion, the last metro station should be the end point of the city and the beginning point of nature around Tehran; not to reach a region that is semi-developed.