The Saudi British Society announces with great sadness the death of SBS Honorary Member and former Trustee Muawiya Derhalli, who died peacefully at home on 29 January 2021, aged 93. Muawiya was a wonderfully loyal member of the SBS, coming to all meetings he could and applying his wit and wisdom to Society issues.
Derhalli, born under the British Mandate to a Palestinian Jaffan family, won a scholarship to study at Trinity College, Dublin. The 1948 loss of Palestine left him separated from his family and without financing or statehood. Perseverance won; after graduation he accepted a lectureship at University College, Durham, in Arabic and Middle East Studies. Later he became a broadcaster for the BBC World Service reporting, for instance, on the Suez crisis and writing poetry and plays in his spare time.
He joined British Petroleum (BP) to develop its training centre for the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) at Ahmadi, Kuwait, and became Head of Human Resources, returning to England in 1974. After BP, he joined the Centre for International Briefing at Farnham Castle becoming Deputy Director.
As well as the SBS, he was a member of Chatham House, the Travellers Club, the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, and of course The Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU). In 2001 he published with Terence Clark a translation of what remains of Al-Mansur’s Book On Hunting. The original seven volume book was presented to Al-Mansur in 1247 but only a part remains – on the use, breeding and training of selukis, cheetahs and other animals for hunting.
His wife Hoda, daughter Jenan and son Kerim and their families witness to his loving and warm nature , his joy in family life and his twinkling smile. He loved people, being always interested in their stories. His family have written moving tributes to him, including his son’s percipient comment on his father’s frequent reinventions of himself. For a young Palestinian in 1948 in Dublin there was little choice but adaptability but Muawiya achieved so much and spread his warmth and love to so many people.
Personal tributes can be left at https://muawiya-derhalli.muchloved.com/ .
Donations to Medical Aid for Palestinians can also be made.