I am in Tehran with the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, who are here to sign an exploration agreement in the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea.
After the signature ceremony we attend a sumptuous party hosted by our Iranian partner, which goes on late. This deal has been more than two years in the making, and we celebrate.
I am up very early the next day to catch the morning flight to London, feeling dreadful. It is not a hangover, since alcohol is illegal in the Islamic Republic, but it feels very like one. I pay my hotel bill (in US dollars, of course) and wait for the directors to appear.
The Chief Exec appears. He looks bad. He goes to settle his bill, which comes to $201. Unfortunately he only has $50 and $100 notes, and the hotel has no change. He asks if I have a dollar bill, and I hand him one. Dollars are the preferred currency in Iran, the only thing about the Great Satan that they like. $1 dollar bills are essential.
The COO appears. He looks even worse. His bill comes to $151 – another very Iranian number. I hand him a dollar too.
The horror of the situation hits me. Here I am in a hotel lobby in Tehran, before dawn, in poor condition, handing dollar bills to my client’s most senior directors.
The good news is that it is unlikely that the hotel’s CCTV cameras are working.