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Fact Sheet- Presence in Hormuz 02

1. Macro-context

The strategic location of the Persian Gulf makes the maritime borders of Iran very important in terms of security, economy and history.

1.1. Security

The length of Iran's southern coastline is 4,900 kilometers, of which 2,235 kilometers are coasts of the Persian Gulf[1]. The maritime border[2] of Iran with the Persian Gulf is around 1,800 kilometers long including the Iranian islands, and around 1,400 kilometers long excluding them[3]. Geopolitically speaking, the islands in the Persian Gulf have grown in importance on account of their control over the international waterway of the Strait of Hormuz, and consequently, over international shipping traffic of the region[4].

1.2. Economy

Economic development increases security in maritime border regions. In recent years, countries south of the Persian Gulf have heavily invested in tourism. For instance, the WTTC[5] will increase investments in Dubai city up to 74.5 billion Dirhams until 2027[6].

Despite the longest maritime border and coastline along the Persian Gulf (Image 1), Iran has the lowest population density in coastline regions.

Economically, Iran benefits the least from resources of the Persian Gulf. The main source of revenue of Iran is oil extraction and sales of crude oil, which besides harming nature, consumes the wealth of generations to come.

1.3. History

In recent years several countries have attempted to modify the historic name of the Persian Gulf to Arabian Gulf.

2. Meso-context: Hormuzgan Province, Hormuz Island

2.1. Hormuzgan Province

In the Strategic Document for the Spatial Planning of Hormuzgan Province, the transformation of its islands into hubs for tourism and trade in the south of the country is asserted[7]. The Development Vision Plan of Hormuzgan Province prescribes the role of tourism to the islands for the 2036 horizon. Article 7 from this document envisions the islands as providing a diverse spectrum of services in coastal and maritime tourism, taking into account the potentials of Persian Gulf and possible competition with regional rivals. On page 15 of the same document, development of seaside tourism by attracting investments is accentuated, especially for accommodation and hospitality centers in eastern and western coastlines of the Gulf and in the islands.

Among the 14 Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf, eight are inhabited by native people. Touristic developments are not permitted in the six islands without native inhabitants and Aboumoussa Island due to military and natural restrictions.

2.2. Political Geography of Hormuz Island

On July 9th 2014, the act for annexing Hormuz Island to the Free Trade Zone of Qeshm was passed in the Iranian parliament with 148 votes for and 61 votes against the legislation, focusing on the development of border regions and the sustainable preservation of the population on the island, in accordance with article 10 of Iran's Population Policies. In this session, MPs against the act favored militarization over tourism and trade[8].

Currently, economic instability is one of the reasons behind the increase in crimes such as trafficking and illegal fishing, illegal drug trade and prostitution among the local population.

2.3.Geography of Hormuz Island

The total area of the Island of Hormuz is around 42 square kilometers[9]. Seven percent of the area of Hormuz Island is covered by urban fabric (Image 2). It has a population of 6,500 people[10].

The coasts of Hormuz Island are categorized under three different geological structures: sand and gravel, 52 percent; boulders and rocks, 40 percent; mud, 8 percent (Image 3)[11]. The naturally colored sand of the island of Hormuz is extracted both legally and illegally. According to the estimation of the Governorship of Hormuzgan Province, in 2019, around 18 tons of naturally colored sand has been taken away from the island through tourists, some of it being bought from locals and some taken away directly without any monetary transaction.

Mangrove forests, coral reefs, the habitat of green and hawksbill sea turtles[12], and naturally colored red sand are among natural resources of Homruz coasts. Waters close to the island are the habitat of gastropods, echinoderms, and crustaceans. The heights of the island are natural habitat of Chinkara gazelle[13]s and rabbits. By virtue of the sum of these characteristics, parts of the island have been recognized as protected area[14]. (Image 4)

2.4. Environmental challenges of Hormuz Island

The prominent plant species of Hormuz is Prosopis juliflora, a type of mesquite, an allergenic plant whose roots penetrate the soil in a depth of 15 meters, preventing other plants from growing and damaging urban infrastructure such as water pipes and the sewage system[15]. This plant has been categorized as an invasive plant in the world plant bank[16].

Bycatching, fetching turtles’ eggs, hunting Chinkara gazelles, extracting colored sand of the island, and trash disposal mismanagement are among environmental threats to the island. There is currently no plan available for waste sorting and recycling on the Island. (CBD GUIDLINE/Baseline information-f)

The impact of the gazelles’ newly emerged disposition to feed from anthropogenic waste is yet to be investigated.

2.5. Tourism in Hormuz

According to the Strategic Document for the Spatial Planning of Hormuzgan Province and the law on annexing Hormuz Island to the Free Trade Zone of Qeshm passed on July 9th 2014 the role of tourism has been assigned to Hormuz as an issue related to security and development.

At this point, tourism is becoming increasingly important in the livelihood of people in Hormuz, as only general tourism-related services, not including hospitality, provide part of the annual income of half of the island's population[17].

According to the published statistics of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, as of March 24, 2019 (during the Iranian New Year holidays) 18,000 trips have been registered in Hormuz. In other words, on this day, around 9,000 visitors have entered the island. According to this organization, in 2019, about 400,000 tourists visited the island, and the visits have been increasing at the rate of 40 percent per year within the last five years. 400,000 visitors a year equals a daily average of 1,095 visitors.

Current tourist facilities in the island include: a hotel[18] with fourteen rooms, a motel[19] with 9 accommodation units, and fifteen hostels all belonging to non-local people[20]. There also exist some informal accommodations let by locals. Altogether, it is estimated that Hormuz has the capacity of 250 accommodations per night for the tourists. The rest should inevitably commute to Qeshm or camp in Hormuz.

Cultural tourists, families, children and elderly people, sensitive groups affected by diseases or disabilities, etc. have a very limited possibility for staying in the island and chose to stay in Qeshm or Bandarabbas, and come to Hormuz on one-day long tours.

Considering the minimal accommodation facilities of Hormuz, the island is mostly a destination for backpackers. Backpackers almost never harm the local community (CBD GUIDLINE/B-1-b), but a backpacker spends the least in a touristic destination, spending between 1 to 10 dollars a day in Iran. Travel costs of a backpacker can be as little as one twentieth of an average tourist[21]. The presence of conventional tourists in Hormuz can help a bigger portion of the island's native population access economic opportunities through tourism industry[22].

Considering the potentials in tourism and limitations of infrastructure, it is important to create a wide range of hospitality amenities to provide the adequate services for hosting tourists, and to consider a diverse range of destinations for them, both for short- and long-term accommodation while respecting the principles of geo-tourism[23].

3. Micro-context: Project Presence in Hormuz

3.1. Vision of the project

Presence in Hormuz has been envisioned as an urban project that intervenes in specific points, in order to increase its chances of realization and monitoring.

Presence in Hormuz is a tourism project that manages and monitors the presence of visitors in 3 different locales: Rong, a center for the interaction of the people of Hormuz with visitors; Badban, a center for training human resources and for managing and monitoring the touristic development; and Majara, providing what is necessary for accommodation.

The lot area of the project is approximately 10,000 square meters which equals to around one 0.00024th of the island's area. The total area of the project is around 4000 square meters which is one 0.000095th or less than one 0.0001st of the total island area. Majara residency comprises 17 guest suites which can host up to 84 people. The total construction budget of the project is 18,000,000,000 Iranian Tomans.

Presence in Hormuz manages and monitors and enhances the quality of experience and the relationship between tourists and the host community with certain interventions on three different locales. Majara Residency or the Project for Presence in Hormuz 2 is one them.

3.2. Basic studies of the project

Initial studies revealed the importance of social and environmental issues on the island, to the point that tourism industry could result in harm if its development is not managed with utmost care regarding issues pertaining to social and environmental sustainability.

Social, anthropological and ethnographical studies[24] have been carried out using collective observation methods and in-depth interviews. In this method, the daily life of people with a known identity is observed and then analyzed; a bottom-up method that advances with field realities. Individuals, with their own character and emotions, become the subject of study and are not reduced to numbers and statistical data.

These studies show that one of the reasons behind the dissatisfaction and low self-confidence among the people of the island was the poor level of skills and abilities, partly caused by the cease of unofficial jobs in trade of goods since 2015. Outsiders have often entered the island with the mere goal of making unilateral profit, therefore the local people are skeptical towards them, calling them "sarhaddi" – a derogatory term referring to the fact that strangers are from the other side of the border. Inherently, sustainable job-creating with the aim of training, increasing self-confidence and generating beneficial relations between the people of the island and other groups were defined as the programs of Presence in Hormuz.

The results of the basic studies state that the participation of people in the construction and implementation of this project and the presence of cultural tourists are both opportunities for the island. Considering the lack of standard hotels on the island, the construction of this complex is not a threat to local home-based, family-run accommodations that belong to the Hormuzi people or the hostels belonging to outsiders.

3.3. Planning, design and construction of the project

3.3.1. Agency of significant factors

In designing these complex, social and environmental factors have been given agency voluntarily, and have been adapted to CBD Guidelines in Biodiversity and Tourism Developments and the Guidelines of IUCN for Sustainable Tourism and the Sustainable Tourism Charter. and environmental Issues

As shown in graph 4 and according to published studies[25], the coast of the project is located within sand-gravel zone, which is not the habitat of any rare species and is not part of the preserved areas of the island. (CBD GUIDLINE-41)

In the documents of Land Affairs Organization of Agricultural Jihad of Qeshm, the location of the project is categorized as a rock mass, and in terms of vegetation, it is considered "very weak" with negative tendency and located in the zone R3-4.

According to the Law of Built and Coastal Lands legislated on July 20, 1975 it is mandatory to maintain a distance of 60 meters from the maximum advancement of sea water in coasts of the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman. The closest point of Majara Projects has a distance of 71 meters form the sea.

According to Road Maintenance Laws, any construction on the 100 meter long right of way is forbidden[26]. The Majara project keeps a distance of 130 meters from the road. programing

Dispersing the architectural mass of the project and creating a field hast left part of the earth untouched in order to preserve the ecosystem as much as possible. (CBD Guideline 49-e-h)

Generally urban buildings in Iran are built with a building density of 120%, in two floors occupying 60% of the lot area. The building density of Majara is 41%, 59% of being open space and 22% green space.

In all open areas of the project gates or fences are non-existent, linking them directly to the surrounding natural environment and making them accessible from outside.

Access to the sea has not been blocked for the public in anyway. (CBD GUIDLINE-49-g)

The design of the project is in harmony with the geographical landscape, lines and land feature and the skyline of the island. (CBD GUIDLINE-49-h)

3.3.2.Infrastructure of the project of urban infrastructure

The construction of the complex has not imposed any new structures such as asphalt road or airport in the island. Existing beaten tracks have been enhanced. 

Ramifications of power and water are taken from the existing infrastructure in vicinity of the project, and transfer costs were paid from private funds.

The capacity of power consumption of the project is 700 kilovolt-ampere. The design was primarily based on power production with generators inside the site.

A portion of consumption water will be provided by the Water and Sewerage Department of the island through a 1-inch pipe ramification 4 hours a day, with a fee 4 times higher than the fee of residential use. management of resources

Construction materials were chosen based on their thermal resistance (ability of material to resist heat flow) to reduce the need for air conditioning. Furthermore, the high thickness of walls in the Superadobe technology increases thermal resistance, facilitating control over temperatures of interior spaces through climatic design and saving energy.

Some of the services of the complex have been outsourced to reduce energy consumption and waste production. These services are run with the participation of locals.

Women in the Iranian society do not find the chance to use public beaches as frequently as men do. Therefore enclosed sunrooms have been provided next to water for their exclusive use. But the swimming pool has been reduced to a smaller one with a capacity of 5 cubic meters to save in water consumption. A drip irrigation system has been designed based on the needs of the vegetation planted in the complex, which uses purified sewage water and water from ac condensers. In suits there are no bathtubs in order to encourage a lower consumption of water.

With these preparations in Majara project, the daily amount of water consumed per room is estimated to be around 300 liters, of which 100 liters is provided from waste water treatment. The standard amount for hotels is often around 200 to 600 liters per room[27], and this goes up to 800 liters per room for luxury hotels in hot climates[28]. management

In accordance with estimations of production of wastewater, a plant for water treatment through ozonation has been installed in the site with a capacity of 20 cubic meters per day. (CBD GUIDELINE-41-l-q)

For the treatment of the water used in kitchens, oil filtration machines with a capacity of 8 cubic meters have been provided. The equipments have been purchased from the Kavosh Ab Saanat Lotus Company.

A composter with the capacity of 50 kilograms per day was installed to produce organic fertilizers from food waste.

3.3.3. Construction technology and materials method

With the aim of empowerment and training of the locals, the Superadobe technology, designed by Nader Khalili, became a basis for the construction technology of Majara, (Guideline -49-e) which made the participation of the people of Hormuz possible in construction. In order to create a landscape in harmony with its context and skyline, the crest of the domes have been modified slightly from the original Superadobe technology. The new construction method made possible the building of domes with a bigger radius and lower height.

Executive manager of the project has been in contact with the management of Cal-Earth institute. A prototypical iteration of the construction technology was tested in a project called Rong on the Island that was been built in 2017 with the exact same technology, by consulting the Cal-earth institute, and which has been displayed on their online platforms[29].

The structural foundations have been built according to the proposed method of Superadobe in parallel lines on the ground, and have the option to be dismounted and removed, therefore the project can be considered having a Minimized footprint.

Considering the importance of soil in the region, soil has been removed from the combination of materials proposed by the Superadobe technology and the proportion of sand was increased[30].

The different types of soil or any other natural material extracted in the island that might cause harm to the natural environment have not been used in the project. (CBD GUIDELINE-3-b) Material Pallet

  • Cement

The amount of cement used in the Superadobe variation of the Majara Project is 10 percent. In construction with the Superadobe technology reducing the proportion of clay weakens adhesion, and the use of cement is recommended for compensation[31]. Depending on the type of soil, in order to increase the compressive strength, 6-15 percent Portland cement can be used[32]. In sum 7750 bags of Portland cement type 2 from the brand of Hormuzgan Cement has been used in the Superadobe sandbags, which equals to 1.9 cement bag per one square meter.  To increase the durability of this technology and facilitate its use for the scope of the project, in accordance with the existing guidelines, cement and sand plaster has been used[33]. The amount of cement used in the plastering of the project is 30 kilograms, or 0.6 cement bags per square meter. In sum, in Majara project 2.5 cement bags have been used per square meter of area. o       In the structure, masonry and finishing of an average building with cement blocks and façade, around 270 kilograms of cement, or 5.4 cement bags are used per square meter, which is twice as much of the used cement in Majara. The cement used per cubic meter in Majara equals 0.55 cement bag. This amount for an average building with concrete structure is 1.8 cement bag per cubic meter.

  • Sand and gravel

The dredging of the dock of Hormuz started in February 2017. Part of the sand used in Majara has been provided from the dredging sand. To build this project around 8000 tons of material equivalent to the capacity of 4 barges[34], have been brought to the island, including mostly gravel and the missing amount of sand. The companies providing the materials are Navidrouyan and Zeytounroudan, and the company responsible for the transportation Parham Karaneh Kish.

  • Steel

From the 200 domes built in the project 77 with a height of above 3.5 meters have a built-in steel structure in order to diversify the skyline of the project in harmony with the surrounding natural landscape. For this purpose an amount of 331000 kilograms of steel, or 8.3 kilogram per square meter, has been used. In an average building with concrete structure around 50 kilogram of steel is used per square meter, and in an average building with steel structure around 65 kilogram of steel is used per square meter.

In total, material costs of the project are half of an average building with a similar size built with commonly used technologies and standard quality. Additionally, using the Superadobe technique reduced the diversity of materials and facilitated their transportation to the project site. (CBD GUIDLINE-49-e)

  • Colors

Color is a key element upon which the identity of Hormuz is built, yet the extraction of the island's colored minerals threatens it. Therefore color is applied in the development of the project design. In coloring interior spaces, facades and landscape, the use of naturally colored soil has been avoided and instead building colors have been used.

  • Participation of human resources in construction

Building the structure, ceiling and walls simultaneously using the Superadobe technology decreased the variety of skills needed to complete the project, and provided a better opportunity for teaching skills to the local workforce. (CBD GUIDLINE-49-e)

The building method of the project tends to increase the share of human labor over expensive imported materials. Therefore, the average daily number of workers in the project was twice as many as an average project with a similar size, and the material costs were around half. This project took 38000 man-days to be completed.

In Majara, 50 local workers were involved in the project every day. They were either permanent worker or seasonal workers whose main profession was fishing.

In total, 40 unskilled workers became skilled in this project: Superadobe masters, sandbag tailors, masons, blacksmiths, Bobcat drivers, shotcrete machine operators, house painters among others.

Bobcats were used for displacing material as it provided an opportunity for learning a new skill for the local workers.

3.3.5.Landscape design of the project

To prevent soil erosion, a soil dam is built on towards the sea.

In designing the landscape, invasive plants have not been used. (CBD Guideline -49-g) A number of 512 saplings of local species[35] will replace the current vegetation. As of now, 190 saplings have been planted. Also, henna bushes, oleander and bougainvillea have been used to stabilize the soil.

Water drinking troughs are provided for gazelles and other animals in the open and surrounding spaces of Majara. (CBD GUIDELINE-14-i)

3.4. Implementation and use of the project

With the official start of work of Majara Residency 50 job opportunities will be created directly, and local people will occupy different positions such as executive manager, tourist guide, park ranger, watchman, house-keeper, kitchen and laundry staff, reception employee, electrical or mechanical technician, driver and janitor after receiving training in Badban Center. Among these people 17 have already been hired.

Local people can access the public sections of this project. (CBD GUIDLINE-2-m)

Visitors are encouraged to take part in activities for preserving the natural environment of the island through the organization of events and programs.

In planning of the project, the training and participation of different layers of the local community have been taken into consideration to create new jobs and activities that do not harm the natural environment and culture of Hormuz. (CBD Guideline -41-i)


[1] http://www.sabairan.com

[2]  Maritime boundary of a country is the zone within a 12-mile-distance from baseline.

[3] https://www.isna.ir/news/96020905022/

[4] Hadavand/ Mehrab/ 2014 / Scientific-Research Quarterly of Geographical Data /Issue 91/ Geopolitical Importance of Iran's Islands in the Persian Gulf

[5] World Travel and Tourism council

[6] https://wttc.org/

[7]  Persian Gulf studies center /2010/ The strategic strait of Hormuz in Persian Gulf

[8] Official Gazette / No. 20235 / Discussions of the open session of the Islamic Republic parliment (ninth cycle) Session 225

[9] Bahonar Port and Maritime Organization

[10] Bahonar Port and Maritime Organization

[11]  Kheirabadi, Ansari/Nabiollah, Zeynab /Journal of marine science & Technology research/2017/ Issue 12/ Habitat Classification of Hormuz Island Based on Surface Geological Structure

[12]  These turtles are respectively classified as "highly threatened" and "threatened" species according to the IUCN Red List.

[13] a gazelle species native to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

[14] Kheirabadi, Ansari/Nabiollah, Zeynab /Journal of marine science & Technology research/2017/ Issue 12/ Habitat Classification of Hormuz Island Based on Surface Geological Structure

[15]  Tasnimnews/2018-may-5

[16] onlinelibrary.wiley.com

[17]  Archive of Governorship of Bandarabbas

[18] Hotel Hormuz

[19] Motel Sahel-e Sorkh (Red Beach Motel)

[20] Archive of Governorship of Bandarabbas

[21]  donya-e-eqtesad newspaper/ 2020 December 26

[22]  Shohanizad, Mofidi/ Yalda, SeyedMajid/ 2019/ Studying the Guidelines of Geotourism in Achieving Sustainable Development


[23]  Shohanizad, Mofidi/ Yalda, SeyedMajid/ 2019/ Studying the Guidelines of Geotourism in Achieving Sustainable Development

[24]Felicity Picken, what is ethnography? in: Maggie Walter, Social Research Methods (second edition), chapter 18, oxford university press, 2009


[25] Journal of Marine Science and technology, Volume 16 (2017), Issue 1

[26] Isna news, 2017 May 3

[27] O’Neill S, & RICE Group-2002-Hotel water conservation, A Seattle Demonstration-Seattle Public Utilities Resource Conservation Section

[28] Peters E J-2014-Wastewater reuse in the Eastern Caribbean: a case study. In Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Water Management

[29] https://www.calearth.org/blog/2018/2/12/superadobe-project-in-persian-gulf-presence-in-hormuz-iran

[30] Khalili- Nader -emergency SANDBAG SHELTER and Eco-Village- Cal-Earth Press- P14,20

[31] Khalili- Nader-emergency SANDBAG SHELTER and Eco-Village-Cal-Earth Press-P 27

[32] Kaki/ Kiffmeyer-hunter/Donald -Earthbag Building-New Society Publisher-National Library of Canada-P57

[33] Khalili- Nader-emergency SANDBAG SHELTER and Eco-Village-Cal-Earth Press-P 21

[34] A boat used for the transportation of large objects or materials and goods in a large amount.

[35]V. Mozaffarian. Trees and shrubs of Iran, 2004, Farhang-e-Moaser Publisher