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Iranian middle class threatened with extinction by economic crisis

To make ends meet, Iranian actress Sholeh (name has been changed) has become “Almost vegetarian”. “I hardly buy meat or chicken anymore. I rather eat potatoes, rice and vegetables, said this 43-year-old Iranian. Everything has become twice as expensive. “ Soaring prices for basic necessities in Iran have been making headlines in the country in recent days. The price of chicken, for example, has increased by almost 50% in just two weeks. Social media is inundated with videos and photos showing long tails formed by Iranians waiting for a distribution of chicken and oil at a state subsidized price.

Undermined by endemic corruption and mismanagement, the Iranian economy has, since 2018, been weighed down by US sanctions, which were reinstated after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal by President Donald Trump . These sanctions have resulted in the drop in exports of oil, the country’s primary resource, and hampered banking transactions between Tehran and the rest of the world, leading to shortages of medicines and basic necessities. Iran’s currency collapsed against foreign currencies. The euro was bought on November 25 at almost 300,000 rials on the black market, twice as expensive as a year ago.

To further darken this picture, the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a further blow to the economy of the country, the most affected in the region with officially 46,207 dead – a figure that is probably underestimated. In the Iranian month of Aban (October 22 to November 21), family spending rose 46.4 percent from a year ago, according to figures released by the Iranian Center for Statistics.

“Buying a car seems inconceivable”

The poor and middle classes are the most affected by the economic crisis. “The least advantaged are those who feel the impact of inflation the most in their ability to source basic necessities., explains economist Albert Baghazian, professor at the University of Tehran, quoted in the Iranian daily Ebtekar. Since there is not much they can remove from their daily purchases, their health is at stake today. “

In recent months, many Iranian companies have downsized or gone out of business. Sina, head of an advertising agency in Tehran, confirms this: “Every day I receive CVs from former business leaders who recently closed their businesses due to the recession. “ He himself has seen his purchasing power collapse. “Two years ago, I earned the equivalent of $ 4,000 [3 550 euros], explains the 39-year-old man. Today, after paying my employees, I have nothing left. I’m just trying to keep the situation afloat, so that we don’t sink any further. “

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