One of my favourite memories of Ibrahim’s humour is at my house in Beirut where I had to shame-facedly tell dinner guests that I might have accidentally put a bit of cockroach powder in the stew. People were helping carry stuff out to the living room when it was ready to serve, and Ibrahim brought out salt, pepper and, totally deadpan, a cylinder of cockroach poison.
Mainly though I just remember the many many times he went out of his way to help me. He read endless drafts of a magazine piece I once wrote, picking up on all the factual errors and wrong analyses. And I remember going to Aden with him on my last trip to Yemen, and watching him interact with the people there pouring out their grievances. He was quiet, empathetic, engaged – I could sense that people respected him – but always objective in his analysis. On the way back from that trip we got to Aden airport late at night only to find that our flight was several hours delayed. I sprawled across the plastic chairs trying to get some sleep. Ibrahim immediately plugged headphones in to his ipad and fired up an LSE lecture from his U-Tunes selection. I keep going back to that image of him cheerfully settling down for several hours in an overheated airport, pursuing his thirst for knowledge.