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Page last updated at 21:58 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 22:58 UK

Bahrain names Jewish ambassador

Houda Nonoo (file photo)
Ms Nonoo is a businesswoman with homes in Bahrain and London

Bahrain's king has appointed a Jewish woman as the country's envoy to the United States.

Houda Nonoo said she was proud to serve her country "first of all as a Bahraini" and that she was not chosen for the post because of her religion.

She is believed to be the Arab world's first Jewish ambassador.

Ms Nonoo, 43, has served as a legislator in Bahrain's 40-member Shura Council for three years and is head of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch.

"It is a great honour to have been appointed as the first female ambassador to the United States of America and I am looking forward to meeting this new challenge," Ms Nonoo told the Associated Press news agency.

Her family is originally from Iraq, having moved to Bahrain over a century ago.

Bahrain has one of the world's oldest and smallest Jewish communities. It was, at one time, home to as many as 1,500 Jews. Today the community has a synagogue and numbers around 50 people.

Bahrain is a close US ally but has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

It has a Shia Muslim majority, roughly 65% of the population, but the ruling elite is Sunni.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Bahrain
04 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Bahrain
04 Apr 08 |  Country profiles


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