KARACHI: Yazd is believed to be one of the most ancient cities of the world and hence a tourist attraction, but Iran’s industrial exhibition that kicked off at the Expo Centre here on Friday amply proves that it is a modern industrial city too.

Most of the products on display at the four-day exhibition are from that central Iranian city, capital of Yazd province, though major cities such as Tehran, Zahedan and Shiraz also have representation at the show.

It being an industrial exhibition (which it really is), the event should not be imagined as a warehouse exhibiting mechanical components of vehicles and machines. A visitor to Hall 6, where many stalls are set up, may have a free cotton candy, a spoonful of honey, a few dates of delicious varieties, a cherry dipped in a particular sauce, or may just touch and have a feel of the blankets and carpets. All items are of ‘export quality’ and, therefore, if you may see their counterparts in the local market they may not be of that high quality unless, of course, they are imported.

Siddique, a visitor to the exhibition from North Nazimabad, was excited to see the blankets. “They are beautiful and affordable. With so many weddings taking place these days, you may gift them to a couple of bride and groom families,” he says. The relatively larger stall selling blankets and quilts attracts buyers in good number though the winter is on its way out in the city.

Dorna, a young woman from Shiraz, wearing a headscarf, cheerfully briefed the visitors in her broken English. “Back in Shiraz, I have my own shop of blankets and quilts,” she told this writer, which may be a surprise for people who do not know much about the role women are playing in Iranian society.

Most people manning the stalls are from Iran. But as they have communication issues, they have people from Quetta and Karachi as well who can converse in both Persian and Urdu and act as a bridge between sellers and buyers. A few of the Iranians are from the province of Sistan-Baluchestan and speak fluent Urdu. Those from Quetta include men who already have a dealership of one product or another. Some of the products are new to Pakistan and their promoters seek distributors and importers here. A pair of women managing a stall said they freelanced at such events and also worked as insurance agents. “Are you insured, by the way?” she remarked.

There are stalls of beautiful cement and ceramic tiles, crockery, electrical wires, packaging straps, fabrics of a certain type, and one stall displays a fancy elevator, sampling the range of goods being manufactured in Iran.

Most items are not for instant sale. They are there for publicity and to attract potential bulk purchasers. “You can buy it on the last day of the exhibition, but not today,” said a representative of a factory politely at a stall displaying carpets and tablecloths. “But you can buy any of these right now,” he said pointing to a couple of stakes.

When asked about the difference between the local products here and the ones being marketed at the exhibition from Iran, Ali Manoochehri at the packaging straps stall said: “Our raw material is pure and not recycled. So, you can expect a better quality from us.”

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2017

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