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Do Iranians litter?
April 19, 2009 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Is Iran cleaner than Iraq?

I've been to a couple of Arabic-speaking countries, and one thing I noticed was the piles of trash everywhere. Pervasive litter.

I recently saw a slide show about Iran, and the lack of litter in public spaces surprised me.

Is Iran different in that respect?

Yes, I know Iran is not Arabic.
posted by atchafalaya to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Over the past few years in Iraq, trying to pick up trash could get you blown up. They're just now getting their public services working. I would guess that Iraq is still pretty post-apocalyptic in appearance today.

I bet Dubai is pretty litter free these days.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on April 19, 2009


Maybe Iraq was a bad example. Egypt, as I remember, was also saturated with trash.

I mean, there just seems in Egypt at least, to be a different understanding about what is appropriate in public spaces. In the western countries I've lived in, littering is seen as bad. In the Middle Eastern countries I've been to, nobody seemed bothered.

Is Iran more like western countries in this regard?
posted by atchafalaya at 7:19 PM on April 19, 2009


Don't bet too much, delmoi. Boingboing has tons of articles about cars being abandoned in Dubai and VBS.tv has a piece that covers, among other things, the state of sanitation for Dubai's imported workers. If the shit hasn't already hit the fan in Dubai, it will soon.

I don't know how you define "clean" but Iraq is radioactively messier than Iran because of the depleted uranium shells my country's army are using over there. FWIW.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 7:20 PM on April 19, 2009


Don't bet too much, delmoi. Boingboing has tons of articles about cars being abandoned in Dubai

I understand the issues with Dubai, but the question was about litter. A car left behind by a fleeing expat isn't really litter.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2009


I have spent time in Jordan and can confirm that the littering rate is high. I don't know about Iran.
posted by proj at 7:31 PM on April 19, 2009


I can't recall Iran having been particularly litter-riddled. Then again, it's been about eight years since I visited.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:31 PM on April 19, 2009


Granted, my info is just from TV shows that visited Iran and talked to actual Iranians, but that, at least in Tehran, it is clean. The rules for behavior in Tehran are very strict. I don't know if that includes not littering, but I wouldn't be surprised.

I noticed in Brazil that people litter a lot more than in the U.S., and there was more litter about in general. I was in São Paulo during a rainstorm, and people would just toss their food wrappers into the flowing rain stream in the gutter. This was a middle class and up neighborhood, too, with lots of expensive musical instrument shops, not in the favelas or anything.

I think a lot of countries put less restrictions on or care less about littering than we do in the U.S., but on the other hand, a lot of countries put more restrictions on littering (Singapore being the obvious example).
posted by fructose at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2009


I think that cross-cultural talk of litter often attributes values to something that is, at its root, about infrastructure. I could be as anti-litter as possible in my values, but if the trucks stop coming around every week, it wouldn't take long for it to look otherwise.
posted by umbú at 8:25 PM on April 19, 2009


FWIW: I lived in Bahrain for six years and there was hardly any litter anywhere. They're actually extending land using the rubbish.
So there.
posted by Lucubrator at 9:12 PM on April 19, 2009


A couple of previous litter-related threads here have talked about how the US used to be much more litter-accepting until Lady Bird Johnson's campaign to beautify America (that link is from one of the previous threads). Just an interesting bit of background; I have no idea about the relative littery-ness of middle eastern countries compared to pre-1965 USA. Maybe these countries are where the US was before the campaign against litter. (Maybe not, again I don't know)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:22 PM on April 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd imagine that Iraq would be dirtier simply because of the breakdown of basic social infrastructure since the war--including sanitation. (That link focuses on the lack of clean water --but I imagine that if they can't manage clean water they aren't doing too well with regular garbage collection, either.)
posted by col_pogo at 9:39 PM on April 19, 2009


I bet Dubai is pretty litter free these days.

Sort of. People litter like crazy, it just gets picked up efficiently. In the neighboring emirates of Sharjah and Ajman there is rather a lot more.
Saudi Arabia is also pretty be-littered as is Oman, but typically they have functioning public services to clean it up.
I've never found Iran particularly dirty - except for the air pollution in Tehran - but I've lived in the Middle and Far East much of my life, so my standards of what a dirty public space looks like might be rather more lax than yours.

Don't bet too much, delmoi. Boingboing has tons of articles about cars being abandoned in Dubai and VBS.tv has a piece that covers, among other things, the state of sanitation for Dubai's imported workers. If the shit hasn't already hit the fan in Dubai, it will soon.

Boingboing? I think I just had a lulzgasm. Workers have been living in pretty dire conditions here and in this whole part of the world since time immemorial, I rather doubt that the shit is going to hit the fan anytime soon. Anyway, those abandoned cars are mostly luxury types bought by property vulgarians who got in over their heads on mortgage debt, they're just auctioned off, it's not like they're cluttering up the streets.
posted by atrazine at 10:15 PM on April 19, 2009


In my experience the UAE was heavily littered; we spent a night in the desert outside dubai, in what was officially a 'Royal Game Preserve' and we came across a site favoured by the game wardens which was absolutely filthy. The idea of taking food packaging with them when they left was just totally foreign.


Oman, on the other hand, /was/ less littered, but also has much less efficient institutions for cleaning up after people who do litter. It very much seemed culturally more inclined towards not littering, though.
posted by cmyr at 3:52 AM on April 20, 2009


I recently saw a slide show about Iran, and the lack of litter in public spaces surprised me.

Is it possible that the person who created the slide show just made a point of picking slides that didn't show litter?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on April 20, 2009


In my experience the UAE was heavily littered; we spent a night in the desert outside dubai, in what was officially a 'Royal Game Preserve' and we came across a site favoured by the game wardens which was absolutely filthy. The idea of taking food packaging with them when they left was just totally foreign.

Oh and this bears repeating. The amount of trash thrown away by campers in the desert is really just disgusting. It's a real problem for the Bedouins because their camels eat the plastic bags and can die. I've been involved with some desert cleanups here, but well - you might as well desalinate the entire sea.
posted by atrazine at 5:48 AM on April 20, 2009


My father, who lived in Iran for decades before the revolution was flying home to Isfahan and had a layover in Baghdad. Iraq had just within months opened the magnificent marble Baghdad International (Later replaced by Saddam International, then back to Baghdad). It was built to be not only state-of-the-art for its time but a gleaming palace to impress anyone who entered its doors. As he walked across the tarmac and up to the marble steps for his very first impression of Iraq he was greeted by a fresh, glistening pile of human feces. Not only had someone taken a dump on the stairs, no one had bothered to clean it off. When he walked down those same stairs to leave a few days later, guess what? The poo was still there.

A common persian saying that I have written here before goes "while the Arabs in the desert are dying of thirst the dogs of Isfahan are lapping icewater." This sort of sums up how Iranians feel about their Arab neighbors and their hygene.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:51 AM on April 20, 2009


North Africa is a whole different story. Main streets in Iran are relatively clean, whereas back alleys are still ridden with litter.
posted by gman at 6:10 AM on April 20, 2009


Ok, I'm in Tehran right now and I'm definitely seeing some litter and trash around here. Not a ton, but more than I usually see in the states. Can't compare to Iraq or other Arab countries since I've never been there. But it's definitely not litter-free.
posted by number9dream at 6:11 AM on April 20, 2009


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