Hooman Majd

We need a new portrait of Iran, based on fact, not fear and stereotypes.

Expert on US-Iranian Relations, Author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

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Hooman Majd | Expert on US-Iranian Relations, Author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ
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Hooman Majd is a luminous new voice on Iran—America’s top foreign policy concern. Who are Iranians? What do they really think about America? And what can we take away from the historic nuclear deal? With style and political savvy, Majd unabashedly blows past media soundbites, untangles fiction from fact, and dispels needless hype and fear. A surprising, timely portrait of the real Iran—not the one we think we know—emerges. 

Hooman Majd was born in Iran, and raised and educated in America; in a sense, he is both 100% Iranian and 100% American. Throughout the recent and historic nuclear negotiations, he worked with NBC News, attending every session in Switzerland and Vienna, and also arranged for NBC to interview President Rouhani twice and FM Zarif numerous times. He also wrote on the nuclear talks for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. His perspective on Iranian politics, culture, and the nuclear deal—as well as on the most pressing Syrian, Yemenite, and Iraqi issues of today—make him an invaluable authority on the Middle East.

Majd’s gift for explaining Iran’s history and quirks to Western observers is evident in his book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ. A New York Times bestseller, it was also the #1 foreign policy book and the #1 book on Islam on Amazon. It was also named an Economist Book of the Year. His subsequent book, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy, is a personal, candid tour of the political and social landscape in Iran. In his newest book, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran, Majd recounts his young family’s year-long sojourn in Tehran, at a time when U.S.–Iran relations were at a thirty-year low.

 

“No one takes you inside Iran like Hooman Majd, whose keen observations and rich writing tell the story of an illuminating, delightful, and at times, horrifying journey. You will relish this book like a good meal.”

— Ann Curry on The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay

The son of an Iranian diplomat, and the grandson of an eminent Ayatollah, Majd has worked as an advisor and translator for two Iranian Presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on their trips to the United States and the UN. He continues to travel frequently between Iran and the U.S.

As a journalist, Majd writes for various publications: Salon, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ and Time. He is also a writer and contributing editor to Interview, and was an original blogger at the Huffington Post, where he continues to write. In the entertainment industry (another story altogether), Majd was the Executive VP of Island Records (U2, etc.) and the cofounder of Palm Pictures. He was one of the producers on the Emmy-nominated NBC documentary, Twitter Diplomacy, which looked at the first phase of the nuclear deal when the interim agreement was signed in Geneva. His most recent book is The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran.   

Speech Topics

Politics
From Israel to Afghanistan and Beyond

In this timely talk, Hooman Majd makes sense of the military situation around Iran—helping us understand the potential conflict with Israel over the nuclear issue, and also mapping out other conflicts, as well as the possibility of wholesale change within the regime. Iran’s position on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel is crucial to a stable Middle East, and we have to do a better job in comprehending the motivations of the Iranian government (and even the opposition) to see where it all might lead. The key, Majd insists, is to figure out the Iranian psyche: we have to view things from a new perspective, an Iranian perspective—not just Western analysis, which may be removed, biased, dated, or inaccurate. Majd opens up a window, allowing us to clearly see what the Iranian regime is looking to achieve, what the opposition is looking to achieve, and what the future holds as far as most Iranians are concerned, regardless of whether there is actual military conflict.

 
Global Economy
Understanding Iran’s Impact on the World Economy

We must be prepared for the day when Iran re-enters the global economic community—and enormous future investment possibilities open up. That means understanding Iran, and its economy, now. In this keynote, Hooman Majd offers himself as nascent tour guide, and reveals a country that already has a large economic impact far outside of its borders. Iran has a large entrepreneurial class, a strong industrial base, a highly educated population, and is on the forefront of medicine and various technologies. It manufactures and exports everything from machinery to agricultural product, and delivers them to the Middle East, Africa, Latin America. It is, in fact, the biggest manufacturer of automobiles in the region, exporting them to South America and Russia and the former Soviet states. No matter the regime, Majd explains, Iran will be one of the most advanced countries not just in the region, but also the world. There is tremendous wealth in Iran, and that wealth—once sanctions are lifted or there is a better political situation—will be managed by international banks. Relations will improve with the West one day, but we have to be ready today. We have to understand Iran and Iranians, and that’s not an easy task. Thankfully, Hooman Majd helps us see where Iran has come from, and where it is going, and how it will eventually interact once again with the West.

 
U.S. Politics
The Iran Question Understanding Iran and What We Should Do About It

What should America do about Iran? And what shouldn’t it do? Though Iran is the top concern for US foreign policy, most of us know dangerously little—or flat out misunderstand—its political motives. In this essential talk, Hooman Majd reveals the true motivations of Iran’s political and religious leaders, a group fiercely protective of their rights. He shows us where the true power in Iran is found; dismantles, so to speak, its nuclear program; and looks at its complex relationship to Iraq, the Middle East, and of course, America. The two countries, he reminds us, are not that different: both want Iran to join the mainstream international community. Whether it does—or whether we go to war with Iran—is the loaded question that Hooman Majd helps us more clearly understand.

 
Politics
Modern Iran The People, Their Lives, and What Makes Them Tick
Did you know that most Iranian college students are virtually identical to their American counterparts? That they drink, smoke, watch The Daily Show, and obsess over pop culture? What else don’t you know about Iran? In this talk, Hooman Majd offers a corrective to what the media shows you—or rather, what it doesn’t—about this proud country (which is Muslim, Shiite, and, above all, Persian). From women cab drivers to reform-minded Ayatollahs, Iran is a country that is deeply religious yet highly cosmopolitan, a country that indeed wants better relations with the US, but with respect. Discussing the paradoxes inherent in the Iranian character, Majd bridges an understanding between two countries—Iran and America—that, deep down, may not be so different after all.