Hope: A new vibe in the streets of Tehran

Reporter's Notebook

Iranians flash the victory sign as they hold their country's flag while waiting for arrival of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from Lausanne, Switzerland, at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 3, 2015. Iran and six world powers reached a preliminary nuclear agreement Thursday outlining commitments by both sides as they work for a comprehensive deal aiming at curbing nuclear activities Tehran could use to make weapons and providing sanctions relief for Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) Iranians flash the victory sign as they hold their country’s flag while waiting for arrival of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from Lausanne, Switzerland, at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 3, 2015. Iran and six world powers reached a preliminary nuclear agreement Thursday outlining commitments by both sides as they work for a comprehensive deal aiming at curbing nuclear activities Tehran could use to make weapons and providing sanctions relief for Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

There’s a new vibe in the city of Tehran. It’s optimism. 

Vida is Iranian, and the 25-year-old says things are looking up for her country now that a nuclear arms deal has been reached.

“Hope is a word you hear in the streets of Tehran today. I’m happy to be in my country and witness what ‘s happening,” said Vida, who doesn’t want her last name used. “ I’m hoping for a brighter future here. I’m not among (those) who left to seek a better life elsewhere. I want to stay and build my future. Let’s hope.”

Vida works in the film industry in Tehran. She is among many young Iranians who have lived through the ups and downs of Iran’s economic upheaval.

Iran has been on a financial roller coaster for the past decade… a ride that has affected foreign investors, the Iranian banking system and the everyday lives of ordinary people, much of it Iranians say the result of U.S. sanctions.

But the nuclear deal between Iran and the U.S. and five other world powers may be the light at the end of the tunnel for Iranians (and foreign investors) who have been following the negotiations for the past two years.

“I have friends who have left the country for better opportunities to other places, like Canada, the UK, Australia, even Malaysia and Indonesia. That’s not me,” Vida said. “I want to make it here. I don’t want to become a foreigner in my own country.”

And Vida is not alone.

Ali, who asked that his real name not be used, runs a small tech company in Tehran. He believes the Iran nuclear deal is a “long-anticipated dream come true” for startups. He said the agreement will benefit both entrepreneurs and investors.

“I’m just happy that I will soon be able to trade with other partners in western countries. Something that was impossible a month ago,” said Ali.

Even as the U.S. Congress debates the deal, Iran has already started to see a gold rush of sorts by western countries including France, Germany and Sweden. European companies recognize a tremendous potential for business in Iran, and some are just waiting for a nod to move in.

On the same day Iran and the world powers finalized their nuclear agreement, Sweden’s Assa Abloy, the world’s largest lock manufacturer, held a conference to discuss the question, “When are we moving in?’

“Iran is a country with both car and oil industries, and a lot of other industrial sectors as well,” said Alrik Danielson, head of Sweden’s SKF, the ball bearings giant. “If all sanctions and obstacles to business disappear, it will naturally be a positive development for us.”

While opposition groups and hard-liners in the U.S., Iran and the region oppose the nuclear agreement, others see hope.

“This deal is not the ceiling but a foundation,” said Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif. He added it’s a foundation for improving relations with the world, shedding negative stereotypes towards Iran and proving that peace can be reached through diplomacy and not war.

Supporters say the nuclear deal will not only help the Iranian economy, it will also open doors to foreign investors: an opportunity many have been waiting for a very long time.