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Iran Offers Free Land for Construction on Disputed Gulf Island

Iranian officials introduced a new initiative offering free land on the disputed Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf to encourage construction and increase the island’s population.

Amid a tense discord between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regarding three islands in the gulf, Iranian authorities have unveiled plans to provide free land for construction on Abu Musa Island.

The move, part of the National Accommodation Campaign, aims to encourage Iranians to build homes on the island, which, alongside two other nearby islands, has been a focal point of dispute between Iran and the UAE for decades.

Arsalan Maleki, an official from Iran’s urban development ministry, revealed that the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development would offer land to any Iranian wishing to construct residences on the southernmost island of Iran.

Based on regulations for the National Accommodation Campaign, individuals seeking to build houses must not have owned any piece of land or real estate in the past five years. However, by eliminating these regulations in Abu Musa, officials seek to increase the island’s population.

Official records from 2016 indicated a small population of around 5,000 living on the island. Additionally, the island houses a significant military base under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); however, its exact personnel figures remain undisclosed.

Meanwhile, local media reported that, unlike other Iranians, those participating in this initiative would be exempt from residing on the island. Moreover, they would encounter no restrictions when constructing homes in other parts of the country.

The report added that approximately 42 hectares of the island’s total area of 1,280 hectares would be dedicated to the new project, and individuals would have the opportunity to purchase 300-square-meter plots.

Situated around 70 kilometres from Iran’s mainland, Abu Musa and eleven other islands serve a pivotal role in Iran’s maritime defence. Due to the shallow waters of the Strait of Hurmoz, this Iranian island serves as a crucial point where oil tankers and warships can cross the strait.

On 2 August, the IRGC, responsible for securing Iran’s maritime borders in the gulf and the Sea of Oman, conducted a surprise military exercise on Abu Musa and the Greater Tunb islands. The drill featured the deployment of drones, air defence systems, and high-speed boats.

The dispute surrounding Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, goes back to the early 1970s when the British military withdrew from these islands and the southern shoreline of the gulf.

Under an accord between Iran’s last monarch, the Shah, and the United Kingdom, Tehran resigned its claims to Bahrain. In exchange, Iran gained control of the three islands in November 1971 following the British withdrawal.

In December 1971, the UAE was established, marking the beginning of the ongoing dispute between Tehran and Abu Dhabi over the three islands.

In recent months, Russia and China, Iran’s leading allies, have also expressed support for the UAE’s claims to the islands. This stance provoked anger among Iranian officials and led Iran to summon China’s and Russia’s envoys.

Source : NEWARAB