Profit or loss? 81 historical sites up for auction to be ceded to private sector

August 24, 2020 - 20:33

TEHRAN – A total of 81 historical sites and monuments across Iran will soon be up for grabs in an auction to be temporarily ceded to the private sector reportedly aimed at achieving higher productivity and better maintenance.

This trend is being practiced during the past couple of years under the close supervision of the Revitalization and Utilization Fund for Historical Places, however, there have been many opponents saying the scheme will not result in better maintenance in some cases. There have been reports that some of the historical monuments have been mistreated by private investors, such as damages caused to the walls, arches, or the lack of proper restoration.  

“The historical sites and monuments are to be leased for about 16 years, and if the operators fulfill obligations, with the approval of the experts of the Revitalization and Utilization Fund for Historical Places, it is possible to extend the contracts,” Hadi Mirzaei, the CEO of the fund, said on Sunday.

“Up to the moment, 97 auctions have been held for [temporarily] ceding historical sites and monuments to the private investors,’ he said, adding that some of the places are currently among tourist destinations in the country.

Contrary to opponents, Mirzaei along with other advocates of the scheme, believe that the decision can recover many magnificent monuments from gradual destruction.

“Ameri House in Kashan and caravanserai of Sa’d al-Saltaneh in Qazvin were amongst ones that were once on the verge of destruction before being ceded to private investors and restorers.”

The lack of sufficient government budget for the restoration of all centuries-old sites is the main reason behind the ceding project, he explained.

Upon an initiative scheme, the Fund (known by its Persian acronym Saabta) provides the opportunity for privately-owned businesses to run certain old structures to be maintained and repurposed into hotels, traditional restaurants or lodging places.

According to cultural heritage officials, this sort of investment seems to be attractive for private investors, because accommodation in [well-preserved] monuments is attractive for both domestic and foreign tourists.

The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts announced last December that of the numerous historical buildings and structures that are scattered across Iran, some 2,500 ones need restoration.

Iran hosts some of the world’s oldest cultural monuments including bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, gardens, as well as rich natural and rural landscapes, more than 20 of which have been registered on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list.


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