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 began some sixty years ago, when he first travelled to Oman in the fifties. He later returned to Oman as managing editor of the Oman Daily Observer.
Born on October 14, 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.
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 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 and 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 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 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 and the UK.
“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.