Haddad Akrami, Iran

The arrival: June 2007.

The job: Tailor at Mandalay Bay. He learned the profession from his father.

The story: Akrami practices the Ba’hai religion, which made him a minority in Iran and resulted in a lifetime of discrimination and persecution. “In Iran if you are a minority everything becomes impossible—owning a home, having a business. I have four sons, and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to be our life.’” Akrami once refused to give up his place in line at a phone booth for a military member who had verbally abused him. The refusal landed him in jail. When he got out, he began to plan his departure from Iran. He and his family escaped across the Turkish border. There they waited for almost three years to be allowed into the U.S. as refugees.

The message: “I always teach my kids to be friendly with everyone and respect all cultures.” Why Las Vegas: A relative had told him it was a “good place to live.” That was in 2006, when the economy was still booming.

The verdict: “In Iran your heart is heavy; you are not happy, but here you are,” Akrami says. “The government here cares about its people. In Iran, all [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad cares about is buying uranium—and people are starving. In Iran, we have a way of greeting each other when someone asks how you are doing, you say, ‘I am great. I had my uranium for breakfast this morning.’”

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Best Dish Not on the Menu


Best Dish Not on the Menu

Serious foodies know that Mitsuo Endo, chef/owner at Raku, does a kaiseki (multicourse Japanese dinner) by advance order for $150. We can vouch for this dinner as the best upscale meal in Las Vegas for such a price, and perhaps even the best in the country. But if you don’t wish to go that route, at least ask the chef to prepare his delicate Foie Gras Egg Custard, which is served in an egg shell (à la Thomas Keller). It’s incomparably rich and addictive.