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Ironic detachment

I’m deeply saddened to read that Ibrahim Noori has died. He was my bureau chief in Bahrain when I was a trainee in 1980-81, my first job in the Middle East. I had seven Gulf news agencies to monitor, particularly the Saudi Press Agency in case the elderly King Khaled was taken ill, and the office phone rang in my flat four floors above so it was hard to be off duty. After about a month, I summoned the courage to ask Ibrahim whether I might have at least one day a week off. I said I’d noticed that he wasn’t there on Fridays, which was reasonable since he was a Muslim, so perhaps since I was a Christian I could have Sundays? Ibrahim looked puzzled that I should need anything as outrageous as a weekend, but he said yes.


Ibrahim had an extraordinary depth of knowledge of the Middle East, his analysis sharpened by an ironic detachment. In 1980, when Iraq revived a dispute with Iran over the border down the Shatt Al Arab waterway, Ibrahim immediately predicted that Saddam Hussein was preparing the ground to launch a war on Khomeini’s new Islamic Republic. 


I learned a great deal from Ibrahim over those two years. Once we tuned in to each other, he proved an endlessly encouraging and supportive bureau chief. I will miss him greatly and send deepest condolences to Tehzeeb, Assad and Muna and their families. ■