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Red Tuque Books Inc.  9780986516689
Title: Diplomacy and Friendship
Sub-Title: Ambassador's Wife in Gulf War Riyadh
Author: Nora Hazlewood Lever
ISBN: 9780986516689
Publication Date: 2017
Publisher: Words Indeed Publishing
Format: Trade Paperback
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Price: 29.95

Nora Lever's 'opportunity of a lifetime' came in September 1989. Taking leave from her senior position in Canada's House of Commons, she flew with her husband, Allan, a career officer at External Affairs, to Riyadh, where he would be ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and North and South Yemen. Sensing adventure ahead, she began writing frequent, newsy letters to family and regular entries in a diary.

Nora relished the rich social and cultural life of the lovely Diplomatic Quarter, and she and Allan made many good friends there and came to know senior Saudi officials and royals. The muezzin's call, summoning the faithful to prayer five times a day, moved her deeply, and early on two spectacular weddings showed her women's rich social life in this highly segregated society. She wrestled with wearing the traditional abaya and wrote of her concerns in a diplomatic journal; knew and supported the brilliant, courageous women who dared to drive in the Kingdom; and taught English to young women preparing for business careers.

After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the embassy backed up Canada's role in the emerging coalition against Saddam and distributed gas masks to expatriates. When war broke out in mid-January 1991, Nora helped make the embassy into a nerve centre for expats and a welcoming oasis for visiting officials. She and Allan, along with the household and embassy staff, spent nights in the embassy's bomb shelters as Iraqi Scud missiles flew overhead.

Her and Allan's trips together revealed to them the haunting beauty and the extraordinary architecture - both traditional and breathtakingly modern - of the Arabian peninsula and the generous hospitality of even the poorest inhabitants. They drove with British friends from Yemen's magnificent capital, Sana'a, south to legendary Aden on the Arabian Sea; visited the desert farm of a Saudi prince, where they nearly froze at Christmas; and inspected a Canadian field hospital under cons