Ref: AK/PR/2011/40

The Africa Federation delegation led by the Chairman, Alhaj Anwarali Dharamsi accompanied by the Hon. Secretary, Aunali Khalfan, the Hon. Treasurer, Mohamed Hemani and the Assistant Hon. Secretary, Kumail Manji paid a courtesy visit to His Excellency Agha Movahhedi Ghomi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Tanzania and accredited to Malawi and EAC on Wednesday, 9th November 2011. During our visit, we had the opportunity to have Alhaj Shiraz Rashid in the delegation. The delegation was introduced to His Excellency by the Hon. Secretary, Alhaj Aunali Khalfan.

His Excellency, Agha Movahhedi welcomed the delegation warmly with the traditional Iranian delights amidst greetings of Eid-ul-Adha at his office in Dar es Salaam.

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In a two hours meeting the Ambassador was briefed on the various religious and social activities undertaken by the Africa Federation. He was also briefed on the structure of the Federation and how it operates in Africa, including Madagascar.

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The Chairman; Alhaj Anwarali Dharamsi also explained briefly the history of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheris in E. Africa and Madagascar including the relationship the community has had with Iran which goes back to over a century (in 1880s) when Iranian Seyyids came to Zanzibar to carry out Tabligh work, most of whom and their descendants later settled in Zanzibar. Many of them engaged in trade and small businesses in Zanzibar.

The Ambassador expressed his delight on the good relationship and cooperation which exists between the Africa Federation and the Iranian Embassy, saying that his predecessors also mentioned to him regarding the Khoja Shias organizations and their organizational working system and efficiency.

The Hon. Treasurer, Alhaj Mohamed Hemani explained on the ongoing Higher Education drive and the loan assistance provided by AFED to students who study in Tanzania and in other parts of the world, example South Africa, Malaysia, India, Australia, Canada, UK and USA. He requested His Excellency ascertain the possibility of our students to study in Universities in Iran and how they can acquire Government/Iranian Institutions Scholarships for studies. His Excellency took note of this and will convey the matter to relevant institutions in Iran. The Ambassador mentioned that there are large numbers of foreign students in Iran, and that the universities there are renowned for their high standards of academics.

Referring to the Summer Camps which are being organized jointly by the World Federation in association with the Regional Federations, the Assistant Hon. Secretary explained to His Excellency how our students and youths from all parts of the world get together in Iran, which involves educational workshops, visits to historical and religious sites and meeting with religious scholars, academicians, and local students and youths. He underscored that such programs provides useful platform for exchange of experiences and learning from different cultural backgrounds, history etc. AFED supports financially several youths/students to participate in these events.

The Ambassador suggested that Africa Federation officials should visit Iran to meet with the relevant people in different sectors, and see the various facilities and the infrastructure in Iran, and he would be pleased to arrange such a visit through the Embassy. He also wished that there should be more interaction between the Africa Federation and Iran in the field of commerce, industry, health, education and naturally visitation to the holy shrines of Mahshad and Qum and other religious and historical sites which are the key attractions for visitors.

The AFED Chairman raised the issue of Iranian visa, and how the Embassy can help our community members in Tanzania to obtain visas conveniently with minimum delay. To this, the Ambassador pointed out that the Embassy honours "Introduction Letters" from our constituent Jamaats as he believes that the Jamaats do carry out due diligence before issuing such letters. The Ambassador assured that unless there is a problem with the application/passport, visas are issued within a week. In the event of an emergency, special considerations are given by the Visa Consul at the Embassy.

The Ambassador explained that the applications of those holding other nationalities' passports, like European Union, Canada, USA etc. the applications are sent to Tehran, and it may take upto two weeks. He therefore suggested that intending visitors with foreign passports including Kenyan passports should make applications much earlier time for the visa, as the Iranian Government policy have to be followed by the Embassy.

The Ambassador thought that it would be a good opportunity for AFED officials to meet with the Iranian Vice President who is expected to visit Tanzania at the end of this month.

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Secretariat

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