Roger Tomkys, KCMG, is a highly distinguished former British diplomat who succeeded Lord Prior as chairman of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in 2004, a post he held until 2010.
He learned Arabic at the Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies in 1960–61. His diplomatic career of over 20 years included postings to Amman (1962–64), Benghazi (1967–69), Bahrain (Ambassador, 1981–84) and Damascus (Ambassador, 1984–86). Postings outside the Middle East included Athens, Rome and Nairobi (High Commissioner, 1990–92). In addition, he worked on Middle Eastern issues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during periods spent in the Energy Department (1964–67) and as Head of Near East and North Africa Department (1977–80). Having been a member of the European Secretariat in the Cabinet Office (1975–77) he was Principal Finance Officer and Chief Inspector in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1986–89) and deputy Under Secretary of State for Africa and the Middle East (1989–90).
From 1992 to 2004 he was Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, where, in addition to his college responsibilities, he was Chairman of the Centre for International Studies and also of the Centre for Middle East and Islamic Studies.
Outside Cambridge, he has been President of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, the professional association of academics working in this field, and Chairman of the Anglo-Hellenic League. He is a Council member of the British-Kuwait Friendship Society.
He was knighted by the Queen in 1991, has been awarded honours by the Governments of Italy and Bahrain and has been a Deputy Lieutenant for Cambridge since 1996.