Michael Weir

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Biographical Information

Michael Weir (died in 2006) "After demobilisation in 1947, Weir read classics at Balliol College, Oxford. On joining the Foreign Service, as it then was, in 1950 he was selected for Arabic training at Mecas, where he came top of his year. Postings to Bahrain, Doha and Sharjah followed, the last two as officer in charge. This was an exciting time for a young man during the negotiations with the Saudi government over disputed borders, culminating in the Saudi incursion into Buraimi.

"In 1953 Weir was interpreter for the Gulf sheikhs attending the Queen's coronation... After a spell in London, when he was involved in the Geneva conference on Indochina and the creation of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, Weir was posted in 1956 to the consulate-general in San Francisco and then the embassy in Washington, the years of the Suez debacle and the revolution in Iraq. He was moved to Cairo in 1961, returned to the Foreign Office in 1963 and, three years later, became head of the Arabian department. In 1968 he returned to Bahrain as deputy political resident, his service there covering the difficult but successful negotiations over the ending of Britain's special treaty relationship with the Gulf states.

"Weir was head of chancery in the UK mission to the United Nations from 1971 to 1973, a time when Arab-Israeli relations were a major and frustrating pre-occupation. In 1973 he returned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as under secretary with responsibility for Britain's relations with the Middle East and the United Nations. During this time he accompanied Field Marshal Lord Carver on an unsuccessful mission to end Rhodesia's UDI.

"Finally, in 1979, Weir was perhaps disappointed not to have been appointed to Iran - given his early training in Persian - but becoming ambassador to Egypt continued his long association with the Middle East and proved a busy and happy time for his new young family. He made many Egyptian friends, and in retirement was able to maintain them through his presidency of the Egypt Exploration Society (from 1988) and the chairmanship of the British Egyptian Society (1990).

"In 1990, Weir took over the management of the 21st Century Trust, founded by Sir David Wills, progenitor of the Ditchley Foundation, with the aim of bringing together young possible future leaders for more intensive seminars than at Ditchley. Weir applied his managerial and networking skills, and after 10 years was able to hand over a well-established concern... In 1953 Weir married Alison Walker, and they had four children. However the strains of overseas postings, among other things, led to divorce in 1973, and in 1976 he married Hilary Reid, a colleague in the Diplomatic Service, with whom he had two children. Both Alison and Hilary and their children survive him." [1]

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  1. Guardian Sir Michael Weir, organizational web page, accessed April 12, 2012.