With the live streaming director’s hand gestures counting back to one, the zoom lecture started at 11:30 am sharp. The minister presented with slides and an interpreter’s voice. Erasmus School of Economics dean Patrick Groenen and professor Julian Emami Namini sat together with Iranian ambassador Alireza Kazemi Abadi in front of the screen, watching the lecture together with more than 100 students and faculty members in the Zoom session.

Tinbergen’s gravity model

The minister discussed Iran’s challenges under the current US sanctions and the country’s potential: “There’s a big market in Iran. The world can benefit from our developing capacities. Despite the hurdles, Iran has a strong scientific record.” Students were positively surprised that the minister, also an economics professor, even explained the impact of sanctions with Tinbergen’s gravity model.

In the studio, a five-people crew was in charge of the technical part of the live-streaming. The photographer satbehind the tripod, holding it still for two hours until the session ended without moving a step. The two live-streaming directors with huge headsets drowned in three huge monitors and were switching shots from different angles. There were around ten staff members in the room. Except for the Minister’s voice playing via a speaker, the classroom-size filming studio was utterly silent.


Despite the professional crew, not everything ran smoothly. “I was confused that some of his sentences were kind of fragmented until I realised it was actually from an interpreter”, says one of the students who followed the guest lecture.

Iranian minister and ambassador’s guest lecture screenshot
Image credit: Saeid Asadi

In the Q&A session, two of the three students who registered for question slots remained silent when their names were called for their questions. The host of the open question session, also the president from the co-hosting student association EFR, Frédérique Schellekens and the staff in the room chuckled when realising that they were kicked out due to unstable internet connections.


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Optimistic answer

Students were curious about the view of ambassador Kazemi Abadi on the country’s future, given its current situation. “My wish is to have a prosperous country without any sanctions. But it is not only my wish that counts. We are currently active in negotiations, aiming to bring the United States back to its commitments”, said the ambassador. The atmosphere was interactive, and he answered several additional questions. Sometimes the connection was unstable, and the ambassador responded to a robot-like voice patiently: “Could you please repeat your question? I didn’t catch it!” The final students’ question was about the sanctions’ impact on Iran’s international relations, especially with European countries. Ambassador Kazemi Abadi gave an optimistic answer: “The United States certainly has influence on the Iran-Europe relations. But we see many European countries wanting the sanctions to end and seeking more opportunities for collaboration with us.”


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