If we listened to some of the mainstream media and travel warnings, much of the modern world would be off-limits. And while venturing to a war zone is hardly advisable, our featured contributor Ben Groundwater argues that travel can help add ‘personal experience to disconnected opinion’.

My cab driver is fumbling with a book of some kind, trying to turn the pages while gripping the steering wheel with his knees. This would only be mildly alarming if we were crawling along in one of Tehran’s notoriously horrific traffic jams. But we’re not. We’re out on a highway near the city’s airport, and from the back seat of the old cab I can see that the speedometer is nudging 100km/h.

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The driver doesn’t seem too worried. He keeps flipping through the book until he gets to the page he’s looking for, keeping one eye on the traffic that’s screaming past us and the other on the pages on his lap, before he eventually turns to face me and smiles.

“Welcome,” he says. “Welcome to Iran.”