April 12th Christine and me attended the first Joomla!Day in Mashhad, Iran.
The JoomlaDay team around Saeed worked one year to make this event possible. Due to ongoing sanctions against Iran it was not possible for Open Source Matters to support the event with 500 US$ as they usually do for an official Joomla!Day. I announced the event personally in several chats, meetings and JoomlaDays (last time in New England) but people had concerns about the political situation and often fear to get involved in that. For our company cocoate which is based in France exists regulations too that make it impossible to support the event financially. At the end of the day we decided to have a look by ourselves, fly to Iran and attend the event.
First problem was to figure out how to get a visa. For getting a visa you need a confirmation of a hotel reservation with a price in. Especially in Mashhad the hotel staff speak Farsi and Arabic but very little English. Confirming a price longer than a few weeks/days is hard for them because of a rising inflation in the last months. At least we found the Bahram Hotel which is located near Iman Reza shrine and near the house where Ali Khamenei سید علی حسینی خامنهای was born.
We had to add our names to a list of the German "Auswärtiges Amt" and they told us to be very careful, don't take personal computers, cameras and other equipment with us and several more security advices. It is not possible to use our credit cards in Iran so we had to bring in cash for the hotel and our expenses. The money has to be changed somewhere (be careful when carrying high amounts of cash in your pocket ...).
We got more and more unsure whether it was a good idea to go to Iran but the curiosity and the hope that people are nearly the same in the whole world was still bigger.