Real-estate developers have found their next big project: Iran.
The onetime pariah’s year-old deal to curb its nuclear program lifts a host of economic sanctions that have limited the ability to do business in the country. Now, hotel and shopping mall developers from Europe and the Middle East are rushing to take advantage of the opening.
Developers are making bets on the capital city of Tehran, while some European companies are leasing office space there, lifting the market. Plans are moving forward to turn an area near the city’s international airport into a logistics hub that would compete with those in Turkey and Dubai.
Iran’s geography, growing middle class and resources make it a tempting target for international companies that have spent years on the sidelines. After decades of isolation, demand for foreign consumer goods is high in this country of 80 million.
Some U.S. sanctions are still in effect, discouraging American companies from expanding into Iran for now. Many international companies in sectors like energy and health care are holding back as well.
The early movers include hotel industry companies like France’s Accor, Spain’s Meliá and Germany’s Steigenberger Hotel Group.
Developers of office buildings and logistics centers see opportunity partly because supply was severely limited under sanctions. The bet is that demand for space will increase as business relations continue to improve.