HIGH-END SHOPPING, and Iranian culture, are not two things I’d necessarily put together. A photo essay posted on Al Jazeera by Thomas Cristofoletti has got me thinking otherwise, however. It seems that the rise of Western-style shopping malls taking over the landscape of many Iranian cities, has not been combatted by the conservative practices many citizens are known to uphold.

In fact, many are using these malls and shopping centers as a means of letting loose. Check out this children’s area inside of the Persian Gulf Complex in Shiraz. Not even the mall in my area is this cool.

But then again, I tend to do more of my shopping online now. So perhaps Iran is still struggling to keep up with the evolving culture that is the way we consume. According to the article, smartphone and tablet purchases are on the rise, but are not yet the norm. And many Iranians still shop at traditional bazaars, which partially accounts for why many of the photos appear ghost-like and empty.

Click to see the rest of Cristofoletti’s photo essay.