It’s a wonderful morning, but I can’t enjoy it. After months of covering international stocks, I’m on my first real interview.
The Persian is tall, impeccably dressed and with brilliant olive skin. I find him overseeing the bustling docks like a man planning on buying it all. His face lights up, though his handshake is measured. I squeeze his hand. The flesh is like stone.
He immediately gets to talking. He’s magnetic, making his business theories sound as sacred as creeds. The accent is Queen’s English, but he clearly and accurately pronounces foreign words as most Englishmen cannot.
My purpose here seems simple – to whittle away some of the mysterious visitor’s mystery.
Eirik: Thanks for the audience, sir. Everyone calls you ‘The Persian.’ What’s your real name? What should we know about you?
Nahir: Thank you again for your kind indulgence, Mr. Ivarson. My name is Nahir al-Adil, and I am from England.
Seeing my expression, he continues, “My parents were from the Sublime State of Persia. I was raised and educated by the Montagu-Stuart family. Thus my original pedigree makes little difference to most rational people.”
Nahir: A respected actuary for years, I later turned towards investment. Quite profitably.
Eirik: You’ve caused a buzz.
Nahir: Having an unknown investor show up with significant credit from the Bank of London can leave an – impression, yes.
Eirik: You seem to have an odd relationship with your fellow Londoners.
Nahir: I am clearly of non-European ancestry, have unpopular political views and am not a ‘good Christian’. Traditionalist aristocrats – like most of my fellow travelers – have concerns.
Eirik: Which unsettles them most?
Nahir: Religion in public, but politics in truth. My harshest critics could not tell you the name of our faith, but they call me a heathen anyway.
Eirik: More about the religion?
Nahir: Most relevant is that we Shamashim have been respected and legally recognised in Persia – a country strict about many other things – for centuries. We just happen to be unknown outside of it.
Eirik: What about politics?
Nahir: Oh, that’s what they’re really afraid of. I’m a lobbyist, you see. I supported the 1832 Reform Act, and am part of the Anti-Slavery Society. But those are just symptoms of my philosophy of investment, to coin a pompous phrase.
Eirik: Could you expand on that –
The Persian grins. I am concerned. What follows is part speech, part sermonette.
Nahir: Even after I transitioned to investment, I’ve preferred statistics and facts as my compass. I’ve sponsored extensive research in London and Liverpool on the relationship between income levels, quality of life and worker diligence. Evidence suggests that well-rested, well-fed and fairly compensated workers multiply efficiency –
He provides an extraordinarily detailed account from memory, with population numbers, expenditure and income figures, and ingenious measures of productivity. Nahir juggles, recalls and calculates with uncanny precision and confidence. It is staggering, and has been included in a separate appendix, though his closing remarks are here.
Nahir: One may force begrudging work out of underfed, overworked people, but only for manual labour and within limits. But if innovation, creativity or initiative is needed? Hardly. A man who cannot buy shoes may go the first barefoot mile at gunpoint, but will never offer the extra mile. Of course, such ideas threaten less benevolent profiteers.
Nahir: They raise questions about centuries of business practice. They imply that when leadership becomes overly oppressive, it sabotages its own advancement – and potential for long-term growth. As business folk we rely on the good graces of governments, but making friends on high should be only a means to the end goal of efficiency and clean profit, even when our ‘friends’ are dedicated to neither.
Eirik: You aren’t suggesting that Arendelle’s entrepreneurs are abusive, are you?
Nahir: No. I assume this remains a snare to avoid in Arendelle, not one to escape. Otherwise, I would not be here.
Eirik: Well, this has been quite fascinating – and unexpected – but we should speak more about your actual investment.
Nahir: Of course.
Nahir: Trustworthy sources informed me months ago that rivers flowing through Northuldra have some of the best salmon in Scandinavia, if not all Europe. Of course, current policy supports cooperation and integration with the Northuldra, which involves respect for their lands and customs. This would normally preclude intrusive, large scale fishing.
Nahir: However, Irish and Scottish scientists have had significant successes – easily replicated and multiplied – with the spawning and rearing of salmon in artificial ponds. This creates a tremendous opportunity. Through cooperation with the Northuldra people, we could establish local-operated salmon farms that will allow us to replace stocks and even increase them with time. In the long run, there will be more of these superior salmon, thanks to methods that will in no way harm the land or rivers. It takes the right kind of investor of course – with patience, vision, a healthy preference for calculation over showmanship and an eye to the long term.
Eirik: … So you’re saying you won’t be seeing returns for awhile.
Nahir: We’ll support ourselves for the first year and beyond, but our yield will be lower than that of a traditional fishery. But this is what I expected coming in. I have an eye for such experimental ventures. I’ve been across the Middle East and Europe – and I daresay this land and its gifts are special. And that’s exactly what I’m counting on.
Nahir: Beyond that, I have ideas for downstream industries – but one thing at a time. Speaking of time –
His estimation is impressively accurate. I just ran out. He inclines his head politely.
Eirik: Thanks again for yours. I’m sure we’ll speak again!
Nahir: Of course. Farewell and good fortune.
I exit quickly, sparing only a glance back – but he has already vanished. The Bank later confirmed Nahir’s credit within the week. He seems to be here to stay. The Times was fortunate to formally interview this intriguing outsider first. No doubt his considerable resources and fiery opinions will keep our kingdom’s press buzzing for months to come.