Veteran journalist, ex-Observer managing editor, passes away

May 5 – Maurice Gent, the veteran journalist who served as the managing editor of Oman Daily Observer from 1999 for over a decade, passed away on Friday night at his residence in Qurm. He contributed to the Observer as a columnist till recently.

Oman Observer and the team offered condolences to his family members and close relatives.

Gent has been unwell for sometime and his carer, Robin, and a neighbour were at his bedside when he breathed his last on Friday.

Born on October 14, 1933, Gent 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 Defense Volunteers.

“An extraordinary journalist and gentleman, and a mentor to many young journalists who strove to raise the bar on the standards of their work. His writing style and high standards merits him a place among the stalwarts of the profession internationally – skills garnered over many decades of work in the Middle East. Rest In Peace, Maurice,” said Conrad Prabhu, senior business journalist at the Observer.

“While working under him in the business section of Observer I found him to be very simple and a friendly boss sharing his experience as a senior journalist in the Middle East. His advices were valuable in the improvement of the business section. He was also very simple man with a humane touch,” said Samuel Kutty, a senior journalist at the Observer.

“I joined the Observer in 2001 when he was at the helm. He was one of the finest editors that I have ever worked, very particular with the editorial quality of the business pages,” said Liju Cherian, in-charge of the local desk.

“To me, he was like a doctor who prescribed the exact dose of ‘words.’ He will be remembered for that,” said Shamba Sawant, senior editor at the Observer.

Gent 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 1958, he joined the Westminster Press Group, which also marked the beginning of his career as a journalist.

Gent 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, Nicolae Ceucescu of Romania. In 1962 Gent joined the staff of the Financial Times. During his illustrious career, he traveled widely and lived in many places including Vienna and Egypt.
Gent will be buried at the PDO cemetery, said his close friends.

He is survived by four daughters Philippa and Katherine, Helen and Sarah from his two marriages – to Anthea Low in 1957 and Eileen Magee in 1974.