Rebuilding Abadan

Advisor: Todd Reisz _

“dabestan” street near the taj cinema, photo by ACM


Abadan was the first center of the oil industry in the Persian Gulf, after petroleum was discovered nearby in 1908. Until the 1950’s, Abadan was a company town and home to a large British presence under the auspices of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which later split into BP and the National Iranian Oil Company.


As a city, Abadan has been the site of many crises: the 1951 protests against foreign intervention in Iran, the 1978 burning of Cinema Rex, an event that kicked off the Iranian Revolution, and the decimation between 1980 and 1988 of much of the surrounding area during the Iran-Iraq War. Since these events, Abadan has foundered, its population sinking from a high near 400,000 to a bit more than 250,000 today, a slippage matched by a decline in oil production in its large refineries. This project analyses these events and troubles, and seeks ways in which to better the lives of multiple stakeholders in Abadan, in Iran, and the world at large. The proposal focuses on capitalizing on Abadan’s proximity to other large cities of the Persian Gulf, on the terms of sanctions against Iran eventually being lifted, on the Iranian government’s renewed interest in the city, and on the traditionally ill-defined national boundaries in the Arvand Rud area.

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