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Iran@Saban Headlines Nowruz Edition

A vendor scoops out a goldfish for a customer shopping for the upcoming New Year in northern Tehran (REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl).

POLITICS

In his annual televised address on New Year’s Day, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated Iranians on the New Year ahead, and announced that the slogan for the New Year will focus on the economy and culture: "The Year of Economy and Culture with National Determination and Jihadi Management." Tasnim News English published his speech in full.

The Office of the Supreme Leader has posted a video of the Supreme Leader’s full New Year’s message to Iranians. Full Persian text of his New Year message was also posted.

In his official New Year’s statement, President Hassan Rouhani said his government’s efforts are put towards making the "lives of Iranians more comfortable and allow them to be less concerned about our country’s future and our children’s safety."

Former President Mohammed Khatami released a New Year’s statement and said, "We are hopeful of the future and we love our country, we are proud of the revolution and believe in the (Islamic) system, and within this system we believe in respect, and dignity of the people and we are hopeful in the coming year we will witness reforms within our system and strengthen our national security and social welfare."

President Rouhani will travel to Afghanistan next week to take part in the 4th annual International Nowruz Festival in Kabul. The March 27th festival will be also attended by the heads of state from Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.

NOWRUZ STATEMENTS FROM THE UNITED STATES, GREAT BRITAIN, & ISRAEL

U.S. President Barack Obama once again filmed a Iranian New Year congratulatory message in which he "speaks directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran about the possibility for the first time in many years of a new chapter in the history of Iran and its role in the world."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released a press statement addressing the Iranian New Year. "I'm privileged to join President Obama in wishing the people of Iran and all those who celebrate around the world -- from East Asia to the Persian Gulf region -- a happy, healthy, and prosperous Nowruz….All who celebrate Nowruz remember that it is not just an ancient tradition dating back over 3,000 years, but a time of renewal and hope. This season we reflect on the shared humanity that binds us together."

Secretary Kerry also took to Twitter to congratulate Iranians on their New Year by posting a photograph of a traditional Iranian New Year "Haft Sin" table, and Tweeted: "Joining in #Nowruz celebrations – Haft Seen Sofreh outside my office at @StateDept. Best wishes for a happy New Year!"

Great Britain’s Secretary of State William Hague congratulates Iranians on their New Year with a Nowruz video message.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres congratulates Iranians on their New Year as well with a Nowruz video message of his own.

CULTURE & SOCIETY

On the eve of the Iranian New Year, Fars News Agency visited the Kahrizak Retirement Home to film (video) and listen to hear the concerns of the elderly and their wishes for the New Year.

In the last 24 hours, Imam Khomeini International airport has seen a flurry of flights. 220 flights have arrived and departed since yesterday morning and Morteza Dehghan, the airport’s director calls the activity "unprecedented." He also added that scheduled flights over the past few months have greatly increased.

The Tehran Municipality has teamed up with 13 travel agencies in order to provide domestic and foreign tourists visiting Tehran a special opportunity to visit many of Tehran’s top tourist attractions at a discounted rate during the 13-day New Year holiday. The selected tourist attractions are listed in the article.

Mehr News Agency posts an article that looks into a traditional New Year ritual and asks, "When did Iranians begin to wear new clothes for the New Year, and why do they do it?" According to ancient texts, since the Iranian New Year is based on the solar equinox, the spring season brought about a new change in weather and the environment. Plants and trees began to blossom and grow leaves as well as fruit. As a result, Iranians would wear new clothing as a sign of happiness and peace during New Year celebrations.

PHOTOS

New Year celebration at a children’s nursery attended by donors and fundraisers.

In a children’s cancer ward in a hospital in Tabriz, a clown visits the children to spread some New Year’s cheer.

New Year celebration arranged specifically for child street laborers.