Cerberus. The Three-Headed Monster
in Sofia-Pia Belenky and Tobias Hentzer Dausgaard (eds.) DUE no. 5
Alfeba is a joint Iranian-Californian initiative to promote the development of IT industries in the Persian Gulf. The enterprise benefits from the free-trade zone status that the Iranian Government granted to the islands of Tunb in 2017, which attracted investments from the region, making the island a thriving centre for cutting-edge research and development.
The establishment of Alfeba marked the beginning of a new course in the relations between Iran and the US, after almost 40 years of political hostility and commercial standstill.
Thirty-four percent of Alefba is controlled by the Iranian Government, while the rest is equally shared by American and Iranian private investors.
The location for the project is particularly symbolic for the beginning of a new course of international relations. The islands of Tunb, contested since 1971 between Iran and the Emirates, are now open towards a new season of international cooperation, welcoming investments and capital from the two sides of the Gulf.
Alefba welcomes applications from young, bright and dynamic entrepreneurs of themselves from all over the world, willing to employ their passion in a history-making enterprise. Alefba does not hire employees, but individual entrepreneurs sharing the destiny of the corporate ecosystem bringing their own abilities and (human) capitals.
No visa is required to move to Tunb. Any conviction for copyright infringement, fraud, information theft or cyberwarfare is automatically canceled at the arrival on the island. Internationally prosecuted individuals for these crimes is granted asylum status by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Iranian authorities accepted to apply a moratorium over the imposition of dress code and morality. Women, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Queers and Trans are encouraged to apply in the effort to create an open, safe and diverse working environment.
Alefba HQ are composed by a 300 x 1400 m plinth, constituting the corporate habitat, and Cerberus, a triangularly planned core directional unit. The plinth is composed by a series of rooms which size doubles according to their distance to the outer perimeter. The rooms provide a scalable and seamless working and living space, providing all the needs of a successful business life from basic reproduction to the highest organizational and representational needs of an office ecosystem.
Cerberus' three heads are the a five-star hotel for temporary visitors and their delegations, a distribution centre and the offices of the CEO. The core of Cerberus is occupied by the assembly hall, which stages the democratic life of Alefba as well as the keynote speeches during the launch of new products.
The island is connected to the Large Data Tunnel, a circular tunnel connecting the islands of Greater and Lesser Farour, Siri, Abu Musa and Lesser Farour, providing offers the most secure, real-time, scalable and green technologies for any present or future need of web services and databases from Alefba's corporations.
Despite the liberal atmosphere and the promises of a thriving corporate lifestyle, some entrepreneurs were reported to have secretly eluded the island's capillary security system, fleeing towards the neighbouring island of Farour and joining its refugee cyber-army and their borderline activities.
The beginning of the Sixth Volume of the One Thousand and One Nights is dedicated to the Voyages of Sinbad the Seaman. A pirate on sea, a merchant in the harbours, and a respected wealthy courtier and benefactor in his fatherland, Sinbad is the prototype of the pre-modern privateer. His looting and predatory practices are in fact the way through which not only his own wealth and powers are accrued, but also the means through which the power of the nation and the prestige of its Caliph are consolidated.
Within Sinbad the figures of the merchant and the pirate are almost indistinguishable. Figures such as the Iranian Mir Muhanna (d. 1769) and the Arab Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah (1760-1826) were among the most famous buccaniers who threatened the military strength of the Dutch and English Empires and the interests of the East Indies Company. Their enterprises are still vivid in the popular imagination of Iranians and Emiratis, and they are popular heroes within their respective national narratives.
However, when in 1820 the “General Treaty for the Cessation of Plunder and Piracy by Land and Sea” was signed, pirates were not simply deemed as criminals, but as “enemies of all mankind.” The treaty is in fact established the space of the Gulf as a perpetually neutral and smooth space for the traffic of commodities—British ones, as the document did not ban tribal wars among Arab communities.
For a short times, hostilities against the British East India Company continued also after the ratification of the treaty. The famous Pirate Coast, stretching from Bahrain till Ras-al-Khaimah, now pacified, was no longer a safe haven for the illicit adventures of the new public enemies. Instead, British chronicles reported local rumors on the existence of pirate sanctuaries in the islands of the Gulf, one of them hosting a fortification built by the company of Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah. With the death of the famous Qatari pirate, and the development of steam-powered freight boats, the issue of piracy in the Persian Gulf disappeared, and the existence of the Rahmah's secret fort survived for two centuries only as a popular legend.
Today, thanks to the informal community of hackers living on the island of Farour—attracted by the liberal policy of the Iranian government over copyright infringement and cybercrime—we have evidences over the possibility that al-Jalahimah's fortress was actually built in this island.
The Iranian Ministry of Heritage and Culture invited architect Matteo Mannini, already involved in other archaeological inquiries in the Gulf region, to lead the work of excavations and research over the original consistency of the construction.
Some of the structures were already partly excavated and inhabited by the cyber-refugees. However, further excavations allowed the finding of a complex underground structure that was probably used to safely store looted material, ready to be shipped and exchanged.
So far, none of this looted material has been found. However, the existence of a “treasure” from the Gulf pirates is yet not to be excluded.