Houda Nonoo

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Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo
Nonoo with Bush 2008-07-28.jpg
Ambassador Nonoo
Bahraini Ambassador to the United States
In office
July 3, 2008 – November 15, 2013
Succeeded by Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Rashed Al Khalifa
Majlis al-shura
In office
2005 – July 3, 2008
Succeeded by Nancy Khedouri
Personal details
Born September 7, 1964
Spouse(s) Salman Idafar
Residence Manama

Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo (Arabic: هدى عزرا نونو‎‎; born September 7, 1964) served as the Bahraini Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2013. She was appointed to the position by decree of Foreign Affairs Minister Khaled Ben Ahmad Al-Khalifa. Nonoo is the first Jewish person, and third woman, to be appointed ambassador of Bahrain. She is also the first Jewish ambassador of any Middle Eastern Arab country,[1][2][3] and the first female Bahraini ambassador to the United States.[4]

Biography[edit]

Nonoo was born in Manama, in a family of jewish business entrepreneurs originally from Iraq. Nonoo lived for an extended period of time in the United Kingdom, where she attended Carmel College, a Jewish boarding school. She earned a BA in accounting from London Guildhall University[5] and an MBA from the International University of Europe in Watford. She also met and married Salman Idafar,[6] a British Jew, with whom she had two sons; Menashe and Ezra. After her father died in a car accident, she returned to Bahrain to take over one of Basma Company,[7] a company offering different office services, from IT[8] to janitoring, hence becoming a successful businesswoman after inheriting the family's business.[9]

Prior to her appointment to the Majlis al-shura in 2005,[10] she founded in 2004 and presided the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, a society for the advancement of women's rights[11] as well as of foreign workers in Bahrain. For a total of three years served as a member of parliament (40-member Shura Council), after being appointed by King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah. Her appointment made headlines because Houda is part of the small Jewish community of Bahrain. Bahrain's Jewish community reportedly consists in just thirty-seven people, most of whom are the descendants of immigrants from Iraq and Iran.[1][2] Nonoo is not the first person in her family to enter Bahraini politics, or member of the Jewish community. In 1934, her grandfather Abraham Nonoo served as a member of the Manama Municipality, the first ever elected municipal body in Bahrain.[12] In 2000, a cousin, Ebrahim Daoud Nonoo was appointed to parliament. The Nonoo family is originally from Iraq having moved to Bahrain over a century ago.[13]

Appointment as ambassador to the United States[edit]

On July 3, 2008, Nonoo was appointed Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States, a role that also involves responsibility over Bahraini diplomatic representation to Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina (non-resident). Some local media criticized the appointment,[14] and Radio Canada reported that her nomination was controversial within Bahrain, with some suggesting that a Jew might not be the best choice to defend Bahrain's refusal to recognise Israel. Al-Khalifa rejected these concerns.[1]

During her term as ambassador, she made quite a few changes at the embassy, like changing the iftar from all-male gatherings to mixed-gender events with lectures on Islam and also introduced and interfaith reunions with local imams, rabbis and christian clergy as guests.[6]

Her role ended on November 2013, when she was replaced by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Rashed Al Khalifa, until then the military attaché of Bahrein in Washington.[15]

Notes[edit]

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