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Kish Island Report - Part II

1/25/06 By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

Kish Island is located in Persian Gulf and it has a 3000 years old history. Some of the trees there are reputed to be very old. The island became Iran's first free trade zone in 1982 but now it is more of a holiday resort.

Kish is located 17km from the southern shore of mainland Iran. The island has an oval shape and is about 15km long and 8km wide and covers about 90 Sq km. At its highest point, Kish is only 45 meters above the sea level unlike Tehran which is about 1500 meters. When we were there, temperature was about 28-29C (not bad for the end of December). However despite all the lovely weather, it was quite empty compared to other times I have been there. The shopping malls were almost empty and many businesses were complaining.

There is a delightful cycling path which is 50km long all the way around the island, running along the sea of the Persian Gulf. Throughout the year, with the exception of excessively hot and humid summer days, tourists can enjoy the lovely sand beaches, scuba diving, jet skiing plus football, squash, table tennis and tennis at the Olympic village. Men can swim on many of the beaches but ladies may swim and sunbathe only on the ladies' special beach in the northeast corner of the island.

I must not forget to say that driving standards are much better compared with Tehran. Car hire is now easily available, but the taxis are very cheap; 10,000 Rials (US$1.25) for any single trip on the island.

Another thing that took my notice since my last visit about two years ago was the huge building projects that were going on. The famous 5 star Daryoush hotel with its extraordinary architectural design is one of the island's highlights and I was told one can go to see inside, but if you are not a guest there, there is an admission fee of 100,000 Rials (US$12).

A popular attraction is on the west side of the island, where a Greek ship became stranded on the beach nearly forty years ago. Many people go to this isolated spot, especially to watch the sunset and to take photographs, and I have a few for you too.

We asked our taxi drivers and many other local people we came across; why is this lovely island, at its best time of year, so quiet? They told us that due to restrictions that are imposed, many international tourists do not come here. Considering the cost of air travel from Tehran to Kish and the high hotel charges, many Iranians prefer to travel to Dubai or the beaches of Turkey for the same money. In these places they have a foreign holiday with good food, more varied shopping and it can sometimes cost even a little less than Kish. One can only hope that soon the Island authorities review some policies and endeavor to make it more attractive to both local and foreign tourists, since Kish is now more of a holiday resort than the shopping hop that it used to be.

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