19 July 1967 |
|Alma mater||New College, Oxford|
|Occupation||ITV News International Affairs Editor (2013–present);
Al Jazeera English reporter (2006–2013);
BBC reporter (2000–2006);
Rageh Omaar (/ /; Somali: Raage Oomaar, Arabic: راجح عمر; born 19 July 1967) is a Somali-born British journalist and writer. His latest book Only Half of Me deals with the tensions between these two sides of his identity. He used to be a BBC world affairs correspondent, where he made his name reporting from Iraq. In September 2006, Omaar moved to a new post at Al Jazeera English, where he presented the nightly weekday documentary series Witness until January 2010. The Rageh Omaar Report, first aired February 2010, is a one-hour, monthly investigative documentary in which he reports on important international current affairs stories. From January 2013, he became a special correspondent and presenter for ITV News, reporting on a broad range of news stories, as well as producing special in-depth reports from all around the UK and further afield. A year after his appointment, Omaar was promoted to International Affairs Editor for ITV News.
Omaar was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. He is the son of a wealthy businessman from the northwestern Somaliland region of Somalia. A Muslim, Rageh's family is originally from Hargeisa.
Omaar moved to the United Kingdom when he was two years old. He was educated at two independent schools: the Dragon School in Oxford, and Cheltenham College in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. He later studied Modern History at New College at the University of Oxford.
Omaar began his journalistic career as a trainee for The Voice newspaper. In 1991, he moved to Ethiopia where he freelanced as a foreign correspondent, working mainly for the BBC World Service. A year later, he returned to London to work as a producer and broadcast journalist for the BBC. He moved to South Africa after having been appointed the BBC's Africa correspondent. Omaar's wife and children were based there through 2004, and his regular commuting made domestic life difficult.
At the BBC and the Iraq invasion
Omaar has written a book about his time as the BBC's Iraq correspondent called Revolution Day. The book deals with the effects of the Saddam Hussein regime, UN sanctions, and of the war on Iraqi civilians.
Explaining why he left the BBC, he stated: "I wanted to be an independent journalist who did projects for the people I wanted. I wanted to be free". On being asked if he could have had more influence by staying he replied: "I don't think so. Many people from many backgrounds at the BBC have tried."
Omaar has also referred to the BBC as a "white man's club":
"It's the mentality. I'm in some ways guilty of this – I went to public school, I went to Oxford. I speak at a lot of schools with Somali kids and they say, "How do I become a journalist? We may be from the same community, but I don't have your accent." So it's a class thing rather than about being white necessarily. It's much more subtle."
Omaar has expressed regret about the way in which he covered the invasion of Iraq during his time as a BBC correspondent: "We ran around, we did pieces on weapons inspectors, Saddam, the regime, and almost nothing about Iraqi people." Interviewed in John Pilger's documentary The War You Don't See (2010) Omaar said: "I'd hold my hand up and say that one didn't press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough" and called the coverage "a giant echo chamber".
Omaar was Middle Eastern correspondent for the London Division of Al Jazeera English, and hosted his own monthly investigative documentaries called The Rageh Omaar Report.
In 2000, Omaar married Georgiana Rose "Nina" Montgomery-Cuninghame, the daughter of Sir John Montgomery-Cuninghame of Corsehill. The couple live in Chiswick, west London, with their three children. Rageh has three siblings: an elder sister, Raqiya Omaar, who is a human rights lawyer, another sister Saynab Abdullahi Omaar and an older brother, Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, who is a Foreign Minister of Somalia.
Rageh Omaar maintains close contact with his family in Somalia, is an activist for the Somali community, and regularly attends its lectures and events.
- May 2006, BBC One's This Week: "When I reported from Baghdad, I never doubted that the invasion would end in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. What I was sceptical about was what would follow afterwards. There was a honeymoon period, and it lasted 24 hours, during that memorable day when the statue of Saddam Hussein was torn down. But that ended the day afterwards, and everything started unravelling from that moment on."
- Michael Symmons Roberts, author of the book The Miracles of Jesus that accompanies the TV series
- Race and Intelligence: Science's last taboo. TV documentary for Channel 4 : October 2009.
- Pakistan's War. TV documentary for Al Jazeera English (Mid-Winter Production 2008/09)
- Iran Season. TV documentary for Al Jazeera English : January 2009
- Islam in America. TV documentary for Al Jazeera English : October 2008
- An Islamic History of Europe. TV documentary for BBC Four : August 2005
- The Miracles of Jesus. TV documentary for BBC One : beginning on 6 August 2006
- Rageh Inside Iran. TV documentary for BBC Four
- The Dead Sea Scrolls. TV documentary BBC Four
- Immigration: The Inconvenient Truth, a three part Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, on how immigration has affected Britain, using Enoch Powell's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech as a starting point (7 to 21 April 2008)
- The Vicar of Baghdad. TV documentary ITV1
- The Life of Muhammad. TV documentary for BBC 2. This is a three-part series, which had its first showing on 11 July 2011 on BBC Two from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. The final edition of the series was on 25 July,on BBC 2 9 -10 pm. People on the programme included Karen Armstrong.
- Panorama - Ivory Wars: Out of Africa. TV current affairs documentary BBC1 : 12 April 2012
- The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors, BBC2, September 2013
- Revolution Day: The Real Story of the Battle for Iraq, Penguin Books (2005), ISBN 0-14-101716-3
- Only Half of Me: Being a Muslim in Britain, Viking (2006), ISBN 0-670-91509-2
- Prime Performers – Rageh Omaar
- Whitworth, Damian (7 February 2006). "Farewell to the front line (for now)". London: Times Online. Retrieved 28 August 2007.
- "ITV fails in bid to woo Rageh Omaar". Broadcastnow. 26 February 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- Pool, Hannah (15 February 2007). "Question Time: Rageh Omar". London: Media Guardian.
- John Pilger "Why are wars not being reported honestly?", The Guardian, 10 December 2010
- Plunkett, John (8 January 2013). "Rageh Omaar joins ITV News". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- "Rageh Omaar goes beyond the headlines for new ITV current affairs series". ITV Press Centre. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Our writers win more awards
- "Rageh Omar". BBC. 26 May 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
- Rageh Omaar at itv.com
- Rageh Omaar on Twitter
- Guardian Interview
- BBC News: Our man in Baghdad
- BBC News: BBC's Rageh Omaar signs book deal
- BBC News: Reporter Rageh Omaar takes new role
- Rageh Omaar to explore Jesus miracles
- Interview with The Stirrer at a book signing "The Stirrer"