The Arab envoy... who’s Jewish

By Candice Krieger, June 6, 2008

A woman believed to be the Arab world’s first Jewish ambassador, Houda Nonoo, was named this week as Bahrain’s ambassador to Washington. And according to her former headmaster, the British-educated envoy was the perfect student.

Houda Nonoo, educated in Britain

Ms Nonoo, 43, came to london aged 13 to better her education. she boarded at Carmel College, oxfordshire, together with her younger brother, Abraham.

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, her headmaster at the time, told the JC: "She and her brother were both really sweet, serious and lovely people. they were very respectable and, I would say, perfect students. Houda was a really serious and responsible girl and she developed into a lady of the same calibre.

“She was strongly Jewish and always said she was happy in Bahrain.”

Rabbi Rosen saw thousands of students at Carmel College, but says Houda stood out. “She was a more reserved girl. one could see she came from a strict background.”

Ms Nonoo, whose family is from Iraq, married in England in the late 1980s. She lives in Bahrain with her husband and their two teenage sons, aged 15 and 17 — the elder son an aspiring motorracing driver. She also has a home in London. A businesswoman, she served as a legislator on Bahrain’s shura Council for three years and is head of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch. Ms Houda described the appointment as “a great honour”.

Bahrain has one of the world’s oldest and smallest Jewish communities, with a current Jewish community of around 30 people.

Last updated: 4:25pm, June 6 2008