Rageh Omaar

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Rageh Omaar
راجح عمر
Rageh Omaar.jpg
Born (1967-07-19) 19 July 1967 (age 46)
Mogadishu, Somalia
Alma mater New College, Oxford
Occupation ITV News International Affairs Editor (2013–present);
Al Jazeera English reporter (2006–2013);
BBC reporter (2000–2006);
author, columnist.
Religion Sunni Islam

Rageh Omaar (/ˈræɡi ˈmɑː/; 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.

Early life[edit]

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,[1] 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.

Journalism[edit]

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.[2]

His career highlights include reporting live from war-torn Somalia and Iraq.

At the BBC and the Iraq invasion[edit]

Omaar covered the Iraq invasion for the weekday BBC news bulletins and BBC News. Many of his broadcasts were syndicated across the United States, where he became known as the Scud Stud.[3]

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.

In 2003, Omaar was the recipient of an Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy award for the best TV journalist.[4]

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."[5]

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."[5] 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".[6]

Al Jazeera[edit]

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.

ITV News[edit]

In January 2013, it was announced that Omaar would be joining ITV News as a special correspondent.[7] He was promoted the following year to ITV News' International Affairs Editor.[8]

Awards[edit]

In 2008, Omaar was presented the Arab Media Watch Award for excellence in journalism.[9]

Personal life[edit]

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.

Quotations[edit]

  • 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."[10]

See also[edit]

Other works[edit]

Television[edit]

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prime Performers – Rageh Omaar
  2. ^ Whitworth, Damian (7 February 2006). "Farewell to the front line (for now)". London: Times Online. Retrieved 28 August 2007. 
  3. ^ "ITV fails in bid to woo Rageh Omaar". Broadcastnow. 26 February 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  4. ^ http://www.emmainteractive.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13538&Itemid=3320
  5. ^ a b Pool, Hannah (15 February 2007). "Question Time: Rageh Omar". London: Media Guardian. 
  6. ^ John Pilger "Why are wars not being reported honestly?", The Guardian, 10 December 2010
  7. ^ Plunkett, John (8 January 2013). "Rageh Omaar joins ITV News". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rageh Omaar goes beyond the headlines for new ITV current affairs series". ITV Press Centre. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  9. ^ Our writers win more awards
  10. ^ "Rageh Omar". BBC. 26 May 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2007. 

External links[edit]