Distinguished British journalist dies in Muscat

Maurice Gent, former managing editor of the Oman Daily Observer

MAGGIE JEANS

MUSCAT, MAY 5

Maurice Gent, a distinguished journalist who served the Oman Daily Observer as the Managing Editor and later as a columnist, passed away peacefully on Friday night, at his Qurum residence. He was 84 and had been unwell for some time.

Maurice's connections with the Sultanate go back some sixty years, when he first travelled to Oman in the fifties to meet and interview HH Sultan Said bin Taimur, father of the present Sultan. He later returned to Oman as Managing Editor of the Oman Daily Observer.

Born on the 14th. October,1933 Maurice spent much of the early part of his life in air-raid shelters during the Blitz in London. His father was a senior civilian member of the War Office and also a member of the LDV, the London Defence Volunteers.

Maurice attended Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet, Hertfordshire, a Boys’ Grammar School which was founded in 1573, by Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester.

On leaving school at 18, like many young men of his age, he was conscripted into National Service. He was assigned to the Joint Forces Language School where he became proficient in Russian, briefly running the BBC office in Moscow later in his career.

In 1953 he went up to Oriel College, Oxford, where he gained an honours degree in English. His first job on graduating was with a furniture magazine. He later joined the Design Centre in the Haymarket as Press Officer. In 1958 he joined the Westminster Press Group and this was the beginning of his career as a journalist.

He was later appointed to the BBC External Services and in his role as diplomatic correspondent, met many of the World’s leaders including President Tito, the Shah of Iran, and Nicolae Ceucescu of Romania. In 1962 Gent joined the staff of the Financial Times. During his illustrious career he travelled widely and lived abroad in many places including Vienna & Egypt. Even in recent years his travels took him to India, Cambodia, Thailand and Ethiopia. He was passionate about the Arts and until recently regularly reviewed performances at the Royal Opera House for the Oman Observer and undertook other writing projects.

He married first in 1957 Anthea Low by whom he had two daughters Philippa and Katherine and second in 1974 Eileen Magee by whom he had two daughters, Helen and Sarah.

He will be laid to rest at a funeral in the PDO (Petroleum Development Oman) cemetery where many of his friends and former colleagues are also buried according to his wishes. This is a very well-maintained peaceful cemetery where many British Servicemen, many of them casualties from the Dhofar War, are buried and the annual Remembrance Sunday Service is held here every year, often attended by Prince Charles or other visiting dignitaries because of the close relationship between Oman & the UK.

"We are planning a service which celebrates his life and illustrious career as a foreign correspondent, as well as his valuable contribution to the media in Oman. With the help of the British Embassy, the Protestant Church and various neighbours, former colleagues at the Oman Observer and friends, I'm sure that we can manage everything and organise a fitting send off for Maurice. He was always very stoical and positive and a true gentleman in all senses of the word. We will not look upon his like again," commented Mike Springate, one of his oldest friends since Oxford days.