When it comes to Iranian culture, snowboarding doesn't generally come to mind. But in a country that has remained largely enigmatic for three decades, the slopes near Tehran have become a cultural meeting point between Iran and the rest of the world.
In the Alborz mountains north of Tehran, skiing was introduced to the country a few decades prior to the revolution in 1979. Since the institution of Islamic rule, snowboarding has become popular among Iran's well-heeled urban population. Despite the country's association with a certain conservative streak, a modest tourism industry has grown around snowboarding.
In the past few years, the Dizin ski resort has become the Middle East's prime snow attraction, drawing visitors' praise of the powder and sun. Even European travelers within a short flight of some of the world's finest skiing consider Dizin among the planet's best snowboarding retreats.
Mentioning hospitable and generous locals, there's even an Iranian snowboarding Twitter feed, and international organizations like Persian Powder are looking to provide a cultural exchange with Dizin as the backdrop. A project of the True Life Adventures Foundation, Persian Powder offers "life-changing experiences through bringing together different cultures in different settings."
Until Iranian-American relations normalize, snowboarding could mark some of the little neutral ground between the countries.