We won't give him a name.
We'll just say that he is on a very fast track.
He is one of those Super Arabs who caught on early.
He learned the Open Sesame.
The Sultan of Oman opened the gates of the city to him seven years ago.
He threw away the key.
Tall and dark and handsome, he is every woman's dream of the Desert Sheik, though instead of robes and a headdress he wears Seville Row suits, Turnbull and Asser shirts, St. Laurent ties.
He is every man's fantasy of a successful Arab merchant though instead of flying on a carpet he closes his deals in his Mercedes, in his Belgravia mansion, on the Concorde and always, always by phone.
His English and French are impeccable, his Oxford and Harvard business school degrees golden, his wife beautiful, his passports numerous, his story amazing.
Over dinner in one of London's newest clubs, he orders the perfect wine, a little pasta and weaves his tale.
"I was one of the first people who ever went to Oman seven years ago," he says. "The country was ruled by the old sultan of Oman and the country was living in the dark ages. At 9 p.m. the old sultan would close the gates of the city and turn the lights off. It was like in boarding school."
"The British ran everything," he says. "There was no real airport.
"There were no roads, no school, no hotel, no embassies. To get a visa it was conditional on proving you had a bed.
"The interesting thing," he continues," is that the countryhas a great history as traders. One of the first ships ever to sail into New York harbor was Omani and the second country to ever recognize the United States as a country was Oman. Oman controlled all that area until Kuwait became more powerful. Until 15 years ago the sheik of Abu Dhabi went to the sultan of Oman for his monthly salary.One million and a half people live there.
"Seven years ago," he says, "there was nothing in Oman. But the oil was there. The old sultan felt that the people were not ready for modernization. His son Qaboos had been to Sandhurst and brought back to Oman new ideas. His father did not like them so he jailed him and put him under house arrest for six years."
Finally, he says, "The British engineered a coup been at Sandhurst with the young sultan. The coup was successful.The old sultan was shot in the arm and ferried off to England. He took a suite at the Dorcheste and lived there until he died. The young sultan Qaboos took over. But he didn't have the foggiest idea what to do . . ."
Enter our friend."The sultan engaged foru advisers, all Arabs, Iraqui, Saudi, Lebanese, to help him accelerate progress. Now, seven years later, they have an international airport, color TV by satellite. There were suddenly roads, hospitals, bridges, hotels. It was mad. Like a gold rush. Everything was imported, including all the labor. And they were paying 25 per cent over the market value. Other people became rich off of Oman. The country now, miraculously, has what any other modern country has to offer. It has an international hotel, you can drink liquor, you can dance. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos is 35 years old. He's very relaxed. Six years ago the women were wearing veils. Now they are not."
He takes a long sip of wine, leans back and flashes a brilliant smile of self-satisfaction.
He is through now with his story of Oman and quickly moves to Saudi Arabia, to talk about real money, real investments.
"Saudi Arabia," he says, "is probably the most advanced country in that area in terms of educational resources. The five-year plan calls for $142 billion of expenditure, half of that to import people to execute the plan."
Then, as quickly he switches to England, to the financial situation there.
"England is going through a terrible crisis but not in London," he says. "And the Arabs have not made one single major investment in England. So they bought the Dorchester. Big deal!" And a look of disdain crosses his face as he adds up the figures. "That was only $15 million. Everybody makes a mistake saying that the Arabs are buying everything in sight. These are superficial things. Why?
"Because the Arabs are very conservative investors. They prefer to put their money in cash or in land. In Arabia a house may cost $1 million and the land $1 more million. An Arab comes here to London, sees a house for 400,000 pounds and thinks that's peanuts.
"The Arabs don't have the managerial skills or the know-how to invest in British companies. Kuwait has brought 20 per cent of Mercedes, Libya 10 per cent of Fiat. But that's nothing compared to the GNP of their countries. The total investment is nothing. They're really just buying houses, cars, clothing, furniture.
"All England is getting is loans," he says, not operating investments. The market is there in the Middle East - not here in London. The biggest thing England is doing is a transfer of know-how about how to build hospitals, how to invest. The Arabs want the best of everything.
The people who are really collecting from the Arabs are the Chase Manhattan people. Rockefeller makes at least two trips a year to the Gulf. And believe me, he collects.
"All the American companies are going out to the Middle East now, trying to get contracts there. But they won't get anything unless the Americans encourage investments in the United States and the Arabs feel that the American Jews are keeping the Arabs out of operating investments."
And he says there is another problem, a far more serious problem that the Arabs have in dealing with American companies, American businessmen.
"I tell you," he says, "nobody wants to deal with the Americans any more because of Watergate, the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] scandal, etc. the stink of all those scandals on every project. I've been involved with top-level political deals in the Gulf area and I know. Now the Arabs are saying no Americans. They're afraid that if they get involved with XYZ corporation that XYZ may get called before a Senate investigating committee and have to name them."
He shakes his head at the irony and the naivete of it all. "What people don't understand," he says "is that the Americans up until now, have been cleaning up because of their high-level contacts in the Middle East. Yet it's alien to Americans for a person to get $20 million on one single commission. That's ridiculous," and he bursts into laughter. "Why Adnan (Khashoggi the supper entrepreneur. Saudi go-between) will get $45 million dollars on one single commission.
"You can't be concluded, "force one culture, one way of doing things, on another."
Despite all of this, though, he says that the Arabs still view the United States as their potential financial Mecca.
"The average Arab guy who is buying property in London will take about five years to get to New York," he says. "For now, New York is too far for him to go. But the guys who are rich in the upper echelons of power in business and government have all gone to America. They have all bought, including Khashoggi, apartments in the Olympic Towers (Aristotle Onassis' building). Why there? Because one guy bought there and it's an Arab thing to want to be together.
"And" he says, "every time they go there they're buying. Little things, to be sure. But they're buying."