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Bahraini Ambassador Houda Ezra Nonoo to speak at ODU Feb. 21

Houda Ezra NonooHouda Ezra Nonoo

Civil strife in countries like Libya, Egypt and Syria have captured international media attention and brought those internal conflicts into homes around the world, oftentimes raising awareness of the Arab Spring's broad political, cultural and economic impacts.

But many Westerners know far less about the nearly two years of constant unrest that has roiled the kingdom of Bahrain - home to the U.S. Navy's main base in the Persian Gulf. Because Bahrain is one of the United States' closest Middle East allies, the outcome of pending talks between the government and protesters has the potential to impact U.S. foreign policy and interests in the region.

Houda Ezra Nonoo, the Bahraini ambassador to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, will discuss the significance of the developing situation during an upcoming visit to Old Dominion University. The timely discussion will be held from 7-8 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Burgess Room (9024) of the Batten Arts and Letters Building.

The event, which is sponsored by ODU's Graduate Program in International Studies and the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads, is free for students and educators, $10 for WAC members and $15 for non-members. Those who want to attend are asked to register at www.hrwac.org.

Jeff Mistich, assistant director of ODU's international studies graduate program, said Nonoo's lecture will cover developments related to the Arab Spring, but also focus on her unique perspective as one of Bahrain's 37 Jewish citizens.

Nonoo is the first Bahraini ambassador of Jewish descent and only the third woman in the country to be appointed to the high level position, Mistich said.

Mistich said the lecture will largely focus on women's studies topics related to Nonoo's experience as a minority woman in a position of power in a Middle East state.

"It's very timely," he said.

According to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain website, Nonoo was appointed ambassador in 2006 by Bahraini King Shaikh Hamad Bin Salman Al Khalifa. She is a founding member of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society and an honorary member of the U.S.-Bahrain Business Council board of directors.

Nonoo was born in Bahrain in 1964. She received a bachelor's degree in accounting from the City of London University and an M.B.A. from the International University of Europe in Watford, England. During her career, Nonoo has also served as the financial director of both Gourmet and Jetflair International, in the United Kingdom, and managing director of Gulf Computer Services, in Bahrain.

"With her involvement in the organizations of various campaigns, Ambassador Nonoo has worked to improve working conditions in factories, raise awareness of the rights of women and children, campaigned for family and domestic law, and raised awareness of the plight of domestic workers," the biographical information states.