Cultural Heritage can develop business, in a profitable yet ethical and sustainable way


The country is opening itself to the economic, financial and political scene with the pulling power that the new visions and talents of the unknown have always exercised. When talking about tourism and culture, this also means considering their impact on other sectors of the economy such as industry, transport, energy, environment, infrastructures, hospitality, food. It means planning their positive spinoffs on the economy of a country and on its development as a whole, and creating a value chain which, in the case of Iran, has a history that goes back thousands of years, a noteworthy artistic heritage and a fascinating natural environment.

Can this extraordinary cultural legacy become the main tool in driving the economic growth? Of course it can, with a sense of awareness, by ennobling its identity, organizing how it is shared and used in a way that goes well beyond the optimal synergies of the famous three “A’s” that have been used in tourist marketing to date, Attraction, Awareness, Accessibility. 

The agreement signed by the Iranian government with Boeing for the purchase of 100 new aircraft, the first step in the process of opening itself to the outside, and the signing of four memorandums of understanding to display all the exhibits from the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art for the first time outside the country at MAXXI in Rome, are only seemingly far removed from a profit-driven logic. Anything but that. Business and harmony, beauty and development are the possible premises for an economic development model that is bound to change the world with a broad vision of the future. Combining business logic with a need for harmony is the great challenge in creating a healthy economy that is also responsible, sustainable, ethical and that creates wealth and wellbeing.   

By starting from Cultural Heritage, Iran has the great opportunity to build its own original development model, based on some fundamentals: 

sharing: cultural heritage is a formidable networking tool, a bridge that can bring together very different worlds and cultures
safeguarding: an ethical obligation to safeguard and maintain the great artistic and architectural legacies of the past, which when properly financed can become qualified job opportunities
sustainable: no cultural enhancement project can now be unrelated to a general idea of development that takes account of safeguarding the environment, the responsible use of resources, the need for a positive impact on its surroundings.
business opportunities for young people: in a country with a young population, given the average age of its inhabitants, a cultural heritage can and must become an opportunity to develop a network of dynamic and qualified young business people, which can be a way of keeping young people in their place of origin, bringing the added value of their skills.

The culture economy currently gives work to 30 million people around the world, accounts for 3%

of global GDP and, according to UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators, culture and creativity can contribute to between 1.5 and 5.7% of the economy of developing countries. According to a recent analysis issued in June 2016 by the European Commission, in developed and developing countries alike, the culture industry has a potential ranging from 2 to 7% of the overall economy in various countries. A figure that far exceeds the contribution of many traditional sectors of industry.

Italy and Iran are close in terms of their ancient history and artistic, cultural and natural heritage. Together the two Countries can play a round win-win in which respectively Iran acts as second consumer market in MEA while Italy can contribute providing excellent know-how and technology together with fluxus of business or leisure visitors, who are very motivated to discovering those still little-known marvels. The power of Culture as a tool of ‘beauty’ and accomplishment for everybody, the transformation of an opportunity into a promise of happiness, can trigger a virtuous process of growth and exchange between two countries which have everything it takes to affirm a new leadership given by exemplary behaviors and become new role models in their respective geographical areas. Cultural Heritage can develop business, in a profitable yet ethical and sustainable way. It is a new chapter that Iran and Italy can write together. A story that can be told as ‘good news’ for the next Ambrosetti summit in Tehran. 


By Filomena Rosato, CEO FiloComunicazione published in nr. 6 of The Magazine, dedicated to the Summit Think Tanks of The European House Ambrosetti.