To be first in the Middle East is not enough.
We must raise Iran to the level of a world power.
— Shah of Iran, March 1974
The Shah and Ardeshir Zahedi in Swiss ski
resort; arriving as a guest of the Queen at
The Shah reached the apogee of international acclaim in the mid-1970s. Flush with cash and ready to lend or invest it to enhance his own and his country’s reputation, he and the fashionably-gowned queen were invited to visit nearly all the world’s great capitals. Skiing in the Swiss Alps, staying as honored guests in the palaces of kings, queens and presidents, the Pahlavis were celebrities, and they loved it. Iran dazzled the commentators.
At London dinner parties with politicians and economists, guests were asked to write on the back of their place-cards the names of the nations most likely to be “on top of the world” by the end of the century. Nearly all included Iran in the top ten; some agreed with the Shah that his country was well on the way to becoming the world’s fifth or sixth largest economy!
There was never any chance of that. Yet the Shah had much to boast about. Iran’s GDP per head had risen