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October 06, 2003

Iranian Technology Forum
Mehdi Yahyanejad  [info|posts]

On Saturday September 29th, a full day Iranian Technology Forum (ITF) was held at MIT. This conference was organized by SiliconIran, a recently founded Information Technology firm in California. Around 200 Iranians and non-Iranians were present for the event. Most of them were high-tech professionals including venture capitalists, CEOs and academics. There were also a few students present from local universities such as MIT and Northeastern. The talks were about new developing technologies in the high-tech industry and also the available opportunities for investment.

During the coffee breaks and lunch, people had a chance to meet each other. This was the first time that ITF was being held on the East coast, and as such it was a good chance for Iranian businesspeople living on the East coast to get to know their counterparts on the other coast. The conference atmosphere was friendly. There was no sign of the over-formality that is sometimes present at Iranian events. Some people were wearing suits while a few others were in informal clothing. This relaxed attitude was true in the case of language, too. Persian and English were both spoken in the lobby outside of the conference hall. However, all the talks were in English, mainly due to the presence of non-Iranians and the convenience of the speakers.

The talks were amusing! Almost all of the speakers had professional PowerPoint slides full of statistics, figures and video clips. They talked about investment opportunities, new communication technologies, the future of the semiconductor industry, medical advances and the outlook for information technology.

Shaygan Kheradpir, chief information officer of Verizon Communications, told the audience how in the near future Verizon would make it possible for its cellular phone customers to broadcast their location over the Internet. This means that to keep track of the whereabouts of your teenager, it is enough to buy him or her a cell phone.

Dr. Massoud Khatamee, who is an executive director of the Fertility Research Foundation, talked about advances in biotechnology and infertility treatment. To remind the audience how common infertility treatment is, he said that he was contacted by the Clinton family for advice on fertility when Hillary Clinton wanted a child at age 4648. Khatamee joked how absurd it was that they came to talk to an Iranian who is also a Republican with the lastname "Khatami," something that can only happen in America. He added that he told them to have a child you need a man, making the audience burst into laughter.

What was absent from the conference was any mention of Iran. The reason for this was not hard to understand from what the last speaker of the day, Mohammad Sanati, told the audience. Dr. Sanati is the founder of Sina Soft Co., one of the biggest software companies in Iran. His company created many beautiful Persian fonts as well as the most commonly used Persian word processor, Zarnegar. He talked about the great potential of high-tech industry in Iran. Iranians are crazy about technology. He had even spotted a beggar on the street with a cell phone. He said, however, that the U.S. sanctions have crippled the growth of high-tech industry in Iran. For example, the American credit card giants, Visa and American Express, are not allowed to provide services in Iran. This means no E-business, which relies on credit card payments. The sanctions also hinder foreign investments and make it difficult for Iranians to purchase American software. He also named other existing infrastructure problems in Iran that have kept Iran backward in this regard.

At the end of the conference, people left for smaller gatherings in restaurants in downtown Boston. They left the conference with a higher spirit and a better confidence in the ability of Iranians to have their own professional organizations, where they can learn from one another, improve their business network and promote the image of successful Iranians.

saoshyant at October 6, 2003 11:27 PM [permalink]:

I looked at the US Census stats and have not been able to figure out what portion and how many of the Iranians, as immigrants, and Iranian-Aermicans are professionals in science and technology in the US; Does anyone know of any official sources and/or non-official estimates?

By the way, is there any official/non-official stats Iranian or American on the portion the brain drain from Iran to North America in the past 10 years from age groups of 18-25?

Lastly, are Iranian scientists inventions and/or innovations credited as those of people of Iranian origin even though conducted in the US and however the respective scientists could be of dual citizenship? I am sorry if this last one does not make sense, I did not know how to phrase it properly.

Grand Vizier at October 7, 2003 09:32 AM [permalink]:

I am sure if they will not remove the sanctions any time soon. These sanctions have already had deep economic impacts. I am just wondering what more sanctions will playing with nuclear fire bring them. The international sanctions transformed Iraq, that had one of the highest standards of living in Arabic countries to that of a wasteland in less than two decades...

Iman Aghilian at October 7, 2003 11:44 AM [permalink]:

I find it very unprofessional of Dr. Khatamee to do such a lousy job of keeping his clients privacy.

Mehdi Y. at October 7, 2003 01:21 PM [permalink]:

The news about Mrs. Clinton looking for having another child was public, not something that Dr. Khatamee gave away. Probably, Mr. Khatami was not the only one contacted by the Clinton family, considering the fact that a few other doctors have commented on it in the news reports. Here is a portion of one of the news articles that I found in LexisNexis news archive:

Daily News (New York), June 03, 1996

"Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Hear it? Not to worry. It's just the First Lady's biological clock, which apparently is ticking so loud it's keeping her and the President up nights. Which, not coincidentally, could be a good thing, since last week Mrs. Clinton, now aged 48, stunned the nation with news that she'd like to have another baby.

While she did mention the possibility of adoption, she reportedly also hinted at reaching for that brass teething ring one more time as a biological mom......"

Here are more headlines: