Nobody forced me to take on the Empty Quarter: I knew what the name implied before I got into the sector, so I can’t blame anyone but myself.
But the difference between a ancient and deep nation that values her history and culture, and some howling ignorant destructive barbarians from the desert, makes me groan at the missed opportunities.
Iran is what I would expect from a declining, run-of-the-mill theocracy going to seed: the police (now staffed by young men who missed out of the revolution) just ain’t that interested in oppressing people like in the Good Old Days “when the Revolution was fresh, and the soldier’s eye glittered with fanaticism”. So long as the Evil Alcohol Dealers keep a low profile, the badges and guns ain’t doing squat.
A smart Traveller can make some good money in a Iran-esque theocracy, and the culture is actually fascinating and intriguing! With the right bribes and the right friends, he might even decide to stick around for the long term. Just be very careful when the revolution kicks in: betting on the wrong horse is going to have a bad end, and if the bullets fly, off-world foreigners may well be prime targets.
In contrast, I can’t imagine anyone willingly deciding to stay in the blasted wastelands (cultural and physical!) of the Wahabbi loony-lands, which is the template I used for the Arab cultures of the Empty Quarter. “There are reasons why these guys were shoved as far from Terra as possible, while still within Imperial Space. Technically.”
Iran Persia has been Imperial for a VERY long time, with a Shah ruling in living memory. The nation as it currently stands wouldn’t make a bad model for a fairly theocratic Imperium: but the State Religion would most like be some form of resurgent Vilani Ritualism, or just possibly the Church of the Stellar Divinity, rather than any Solomani religion.
To my regret, I don’t have the time to make a deep dive into Persian history, bringing up all sorts of goodies that can be transplanted into the Third Imperium. But a creative and motivated Referee could do a really good job of this… and I hope that someone does!