Iran General NewsAhmadinejad fails Tehran youth, 'impatient' for jobs, own homes

Ahmadinejad fails Tehran youth, ‘impatient’ for jobs, own homes

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Bloomberg: Hamed Mousavizadeh is pushing 30 and still has to ask his parents to have a friend over for dinner. By Ladane Nasseri

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — Hamed Mousavizadeh is pushing 30 and still has to ask his parents to have a friend over for dinner.

Mousavizadeh is a reluctant lodger in his mother and father’s Tehran apartment, not just a dutiful son. With housing prices soaring and no stable job, he can’t afford a place of his own.

“I have thought about having my own flat many times, but I have never acted on it because I know it’s impossible,” says Mousavizadeh, who ekes out a living importing industrial parts.

Mousavizadeh is typical of Iran’s increasingly restless young people, who make up two-thirds of the country’s 70 million residents. Educated, ambitious and connected to the outside world by the Internet, people under 30 are pressuring President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to create jobs and ease a housing shortage in Tehran after two years in power. The war in Iraq and Iran’s nuclear program do little to distract them.

Official statistics show that 21 percent of 15- to 24-year- olds are unemployed. The figure is probably higher, locals say.

Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a working-class neighborhood of Tehran averages 4.2 million rials ($450) a month, 50 percent more than a year ago, property agents say. Landlords demand 23 million to 46 million rials as a security deposit, up from 14 million rials.

The monthly household income in the capital is about 5,300 rials, according to Central Bank statistics.

The lack of prospects for young people is leading many onto the streets. In June, rioters torched gasoline stations to oppose rationing in the world’s fourth-largest oil producer. A few months earlier, dozens of teachers were arrested when they gathered in front of parliament to protest low wages.

`Impatient’

Ahmadinejad, 50, a former Tehran mayor who favors beige suits and open-necked shirts, came to power in August 2005, promising to revive a deteriorating economy. Once a member of the Revolutionary Guard, which in March captured 15 British sailors in the Persian Gulf, Ahmadinejad attracted support from backers of the Islamic Revolution and the poor.

“He pledged to take action fast,” says Saeed Laylaz, a political analyst in Tehran and former economist at the Ministry of Industry and Mines. “Those who voted out of frustration can’t wait for the long term and are now getting seriously impatient.”

Young people mark the start of the weekend on Thursday night by gathering at a friend’s home — one who has managed to get his or her own place — to watch DVDs such as the Hollywood hit Little Miss Sunshine and smoke Bahman cigarettes.

Dubai Bound

That’s not enough for Maryam Moghadam, who works for an international packaging firm that she declined to name. Moghadam returned to her parents after her divorce four years ago. Her next move may take her away for good, she says.

“I’m thinking of leaving for Dubai to gain my independence,” says the 31-year-old. “Here, with the salary I get I’m not having the life I want.”

The Housing Ministry aims to build 1.5 million houses and apartments in the 12 months through March, the Sarmayeh newspaper reported.

Ahmadinejad has handed out what he calls “justice shares” in state-owned companies to give about 5 million Iranians a stake in the economy, says Mohammad Paryab, head of the government’s information council office. The president also started the Imam Reza fund to give the equivalent of $2,000 in loans to young couples getting married and ordered banks to cut interest rates.

Even for people with a job, that’s not enough to get their own place, says Shahram Adlparvar, who earns the equivalent of $400 a month as a warehouse manager at a company that imports Swiss muesli.

Forget Tehran

“How far can a couple go with their $2,000? The groom will purchase the ring and the bride can buy a stove and a fridge,” says Adlparvar, 30, who shares sleeping quarters with his 28 year-old brother at their parents’ two-bedroom apartment. “Forget about getting a flat anywhere in Tehran.”

The professional class is also feeling the squeeze. Ahmadinejad’s spending could have “heavy costs” for the economy, a group of 57 economists, including the former head of Tehran’s stock exchange, wrote in a letter published last month in at least three local newspapers.

“In the public’s opinion, there is the feeling that things are getting worse,” says Heydar Pourian, editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine “Iran Economics.” Ahmadinejad “has good intentions but the outcome may be different from what the president had intended.”

For now, Mousavizadeh, 28, can only dream of setting up his own home and will continue to rely on his mother and father’s support. He lives in a beige room with a bed and table and every night dips into U.S.-style self-development books.

“You can earn money but not a stable income to count on,” he says. “If I meet a girl I’m serious with, I’ll have no other way but to ask for my parents’ help to get married and move out.”

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