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  • B.B.C.: 'Smiles are exchanged, tea sipped, and the contracts are signed to allow the Shah Abbass story to be told in London.

    'It's a good story. The Shah is credited with unifying a culturally and politically splintered country by creating a new sense of nationhood.

    'He decreed that the Twelver denomination of Shia Islam - which reveres the twelve imams who succeeded the Prophet Muhammad - would be the state faith...

    'Shah Abbas was not simply a successful theocrat. In establishing his capital in the centre of Iran, he set about claiming Isfahan as the crossroads of the world by inviting trade from the Far East and the distant west.'

    January 20, 2009