KAMRAN ATTAEI is a prominent former Iranian broadcaster and journalist, who most notably founded the Bahrain branch of the Pars News Agency (PANA), was editor-in-chief of Iran Radio and Television Network News for that region of the Persian Gulf and also Head of the Iranian Information and Tourism office in the gulf states.
Over his career he has conducted many interviews with prominent figures in the Middle East including Emirs, Kings, Princes and Prime Ministers as well as world famous personalities, gaining him a reputation as one of the Middle East’s most respected journalists. His early career working in the southern gulf states was at a time in the late 1970’s when accord between the various states and countries was very open and amicable and Kamran played his part in cross border relationships, especially between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Attaei was born 1946 in Shiraz, Iran. His early schooling was in Shiraz but after initially setting out for Beirut, events led to him eventually settling in Bahrain after periods as youngster in Qatar, Kuwait and UAE. Attaei, as his life panned out, received no formal high school education but was extremely proud to have been a student of Abdul-Rahman Faramarzi; the distinguished Iranian writer and journalist who himself, coincidentally had only received a few years of schooling in Bahrain. Kamran’s gift and flair for the written word was evident throughout his early years as he published his first article at the age of 10, in Iran’s most popular weekly children’s magazine, Keyah Bacheha.
At the age of 17, he became the sole representative and agent for ‘Ettela’at’ and ‘Kayhan’ newspapers, two giants of the Iranian press in the southern Persian Gulf, including countries such as Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Other famous Iranian magazines such as ‘Ferdous’,‘ Sepid o Siah’, ‘Tehran Mosavar’ and ‘Toufigh’ also followed suit and awarded sole agency contracts to Attaei. An extraordinary achievement for such a young individual; to sit at the negotiation table and exchange ideas with the heads of these giant journals. Overseeing a remarkable rise in circulation and his knowledge of the social and political climate in the Southern Arab states in the Persian Gulf and his gift and flair for the written word inevitably lead to Attaei being asked to take over the editorial duties of the publications in his charge, as well as his other administrative responsibilities. Also, the proprieters of Kayhan and Ettela’at and other newspapers began to consider him more of a specialist and would often consult with him on journalistic matters, political perspectives, social situations and important issues in the area at the time.
His frequent trips to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and other Arab states, negotiating and conferring with distinguished Arab journalists like Hassanian Haykal, Salim Allousi and Ahmad Jarollah, had begun to establish Attaei as a talented, respected and approachable journalist and brought him to the attention of Iran’s News networks, the foreign ministry and the ministry for information and tourism. For a period of time Attaie was writing under the name “Ahmadi” with a series of high profile reports and interviews, including his interview with world renowned boxer Muhammad Ali and conversations with Emirs of Arab states, bringing him direct acknowledgement from the Iranian government and royal court and further enhancing his reputation and status.
His reputation lead to Dr Anvari, deputy minister of Iran’s Information and Tourism ministry, to invite Attaei to set up and run the Pars News agency branch of southern Persian Gulf Arab states, based in Bahrain. Attaei’s promptitude and flair in coverage of interesting topics as well as his network of connections with influential and high ranking officials of Arab countries prompted Iran’s minister of Information and Tourism, Hamid Rahnama, to promote Attaei to be responsible for all Information and Tourism departments in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf area. He was also invited by Mahmoud Jafarian, vice president of Iranian Radio And TV to head the Bahrain branch of the Iranian Television News Network, broadcasting from Arab countries south of the Persian Gulf to Iran.
During his years of journalism and responsibility with these media organisations, Attaei interviewed many kings, Emirs, prime ministers and rulers of Iran’s neighbouring states including:
- Khalid – King of Saudi Arabia
- Fahad – King of Saudi Arabia
- Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah – Emir of Kuwait
- Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah – Emir of Kuwait
- Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa – Emir of Bahrain
- Sheikh Hamad – Crown Prince of Bahrain (later King)
- Sheikh Khalifeh – Emir of Qatar
- Jaffar Alnoumiri – Former President of Sudan
- Anwar Alsadaat – Former President of Egypt
- King Hossain – King of Jordan
- Sheikh Rashid ben Saeed Al Maktoum – Emir of Dubai
- Sheikh Zayed – Emir of Abu Dhabi
- Sultan of Oman
- Sheikh Saqar – Ruler of Sharjah
- Sadaam Hossain – Vice president, later president of Iraq
- Hosni Mobarak – Vice president of Egypt (later President)
- Amir Abbas Hoveyda – Prime minister of Iran
- Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi – King of Iran
- Bhutto – The foreign minister (later Prime Minister of Pakistan)
- Sheikh Houmaid – Ruler of Ajman (UAE)
The oil price crisis in the late 1970’s was a crucial period of time for the Middle East and the oil producing countries of the Persian Gulf ; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran amongst others and during these potentially turbulent times Attei endeavoured to be a conduit utilising his contacts and reputation, making a high profile contribution towards a peaceful resolution.
Attaei’s work and diplomacy over this period and expertise in the area led to Assadollah Alam, the distinguished minister of the Imperial Court of Iran and Dr. Bahery, the deputy minister, recommending him to become an important figure in communications between Iran and the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. This involved him arranging details of royal visits and exchanging of gifts between the royal families and court of Iran and other confidential and personal matters. Amir Abbas Hoveyda, the prime minister and Ardeshir Zahedi, the foreign minister, both ordered that Attaei be recognised and honoured as a trusted confidant and unofficial ambassador for the court of Iran, in Bahrain.
This arrangement continued until the very last days of the fall of Pahlavi rule in Iran, at which point when Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar, became the last prime minister during the rule of the monarchy, the Iranian government for economic reasons, decided to streamline and close many government offices and institutions in the gulf and around world. Then Kamran Attaei, under the supervision of the then ambassador to Bahrain, was given the task of office closures and shipment of goods back to Iran.
Attaei stopped working as a journalist from that day onward and from that time has never returned to Iran, partly because he does not support or recognise the new regime.
Nevertheless, Attaei’s years of service as reporter and advisor on social and political issues of the area, as well as his management of the tourism and information organisations for that region remain a testament to his achievements.
Kamran Attaei now is settled and lives in London.