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Zeinab Badawi

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Zeinab Badawi
Badawi at Nobel Week Dialogue in Stockholm, 2016
BornOctober 1959 (age 64)
Khartoum, Sudan
NationalityBritish and Sudanese - dual citizenship
EducationSt Hilda's College, Oxford
SOAS, University of London
  • Journalist
  • Presenter
  • Newsreader
Notable credit(s)World News Today with Zeinab Badawi
BBC News at Five

Zeinab Badawi (Arabic: زينب بدوي; born October 1959)[1] is a Sudanese-British television and radio journalist. She was the first presenter of the ITV Morning News (later known as ITV News at 5:30),[2] and co-presented Channel 4 News with Jon Snow from 1989 to 1998 before joining BBC News. Badawi was the presenter of World News Today broadcast on both BBC Four and BBC World News, and Reporters, a weekly showcase of reports from the BBC.[3] In 2021, Badawi was appointed as president of SOAS University of London.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Badawi was born in October 1959 in Khartoum,[5] Sudan,[6] and has lived in Britain since the age of two.[7][8] Her great-grandfather, Sheikh Babiker Badri, fought against Kitchener's British forces at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 and pioneered women's education in Sudan. Badawi's father, Mohammed-Khair El Badawi,[9] was a newspaper editor in Sudan committed to social reform who, when the family moved to the UK, joined the BBC's Arabic Service.[10] Badawi is bilingual and speaks both Arabic and English fluently.

Badawi was educated at Hornsey High School for Girls in North London, before studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at St Hilda's College, Oxford. At Oxford, Badawi was a member of the Oxford University Broadcasting Society.[11] In 1988, she moved back to London to pursue a full-time one-year MA degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, in Politics and Anthropology of the Middle East (her professors were P. J. Vatikiotis for politics, Malcolm Yapp for history and Richard Tapper and Nancy Tapper for anthropology),[12] graduating with distinction in 1989.[10]

Journalism and awards[edit]

After graduating from Oxford University, Badawi was a researcher[13] and broadcast journalist for Yorkshire TV from 1982 to 1986, during which time she also presented the weekly regional consumer advice show Help Yourself.[14] After a period at BBC Manchester, she joined Channel 4 News in 1988.[14] Badawi co-presented Channel 4 News from 1989 until 1998 when she joined the BBC.[6]

At the BBC, Badawi worked as presenter and reporter for Westminster live political programmes for five years. She also worked on BBC radio as a regular presenter of The World Tonight on Radio 4 and BBC World Service's Newshour.

In 2005, Badawi became the new presenter of The World on BBC Four, the UK's first daily news bulletin devoted principally to international news. In May 2007, the programme was rebranded as World News Today and is also shown on the BBC World News channel.

Badawi in 2009

She is a regular presenter of the BBC interview programme HARDtalk. In an exclusive interview in May 2009, Badawi interviewed Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir, the first serving head of state to be charged with war crimes.[10]

Since 2010, in addition to her presenting role on BBC World News, Badawi has presented on the BBC News Channel and the BBC News at Five.[15]

Badawi was awarded an honorary doctorate by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in July 2011.[16][4]

In May 2014, she was based in Johannesburg, presenting coverage of the South African elections on BBC World News and BBC News Channel.

For many years,[when?] Badawi has led an annual Nobel laureate discussion in connection with the Nobel festivities in Stockholm, Sweden. The programme is shown on Swedish television.[17][18]

In 2017, Badawi hosted a nine-part series, The History of Africa, based on UNESCO's General History of Africa.[19] The documentary series was broadcast in July and August 2017 on BBC World News.

Her first book, An African History of Africa, was published in April 2024.[20][21] It was reviewed in The Guardian by Simukai Chigudu, who wrote: "Ambitious in scope and refreshing in perspective, the book stretches from the origins of Homo sapiens in east Africa through to the end of apartheid in South Africa. It is informed by interviews Badawi conducted with African scholars and cultural custodians, whose expertise, observations and wisdom are threaded through the book."[22]

Other activities[edit]

Badawi is founder and chair of the Africa Medical Partnership Fund (AfriMed), a charity that aims to help local medical professionals in Africa.[10]

In October 2021, Badawi was appointed as the new President of SOAS University of London.[4][9]


In November 2009, Badawi was named International TV Personality of the Year in the Annual Media Awards, the international media excellence awards organised by the Association for International Broadcasting.[32]

In August 2018, Badawi was awarded the President's Medal of the British Academy "for her contributions to international political journalism".[33]

Personal life[edit]

Badawi has four children.[8] She lives in Belsize Park, north London.[34]


  • Badawi, Zeinab (14 January 2025). An African History of Africa. Mariner Books. ISBN 978-0-06-333541-7.


  1. ^ "Zeinab Badawi awarded Honorary Doctorate by SOAS". soas.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  2. ^ British Embassy Lisbon: Zeinab Badawi. Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "About World News Today with Zeinab Badawi", BBC, 26 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b c "Zeinab Badawi appointed as President of SOAS". SOAS University of London. 5 October 2021.
  5. ^ "BBC World Service - World Agenda - Zeinab Badawi's return to Sudan homeland". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b Dutta, Kunal (19 December 2009). "BBC appoints two female newsreaders in their 50s". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  7. ^ "International Women's Day: 25 SOAS alumni to be inspired by". SOAS University of London. 8 March 2023. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  8. ^ a b "Zeinab Badawi". Education & Activism: Women at Oxford. University of Oxford. Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Sudanese-British broadcaster Zeinab Badawi appointed president of top UK university". Arab News. 6 October 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d "Honorary Fellows & Honorary Graduates | Zeinab Badawi", SOAS, University of London.
  11. ^ Scott Hughes, "CV: ZEINAB BADAWI Presenter, 'House to House'" (interview), The Independent, 19 May 1997.
  12. ^ "Zeinab Badawi: 'You go to SOAS and you meet the world'". SOAS University of London. 12 December 2023. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  13. ^ a b National Portrait Gallery, Prime Minister's Office, 11 October 2004. Archived 8 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b c Zeinab Badawi. British Council. Archived 4 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Julia Somerville to present on BBC News channel". BBC News. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  16. ^ "SOAS Graduation Honours Achievements of Leading International Figures", SOAS, 14 July 2011.
  17. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019". NobelPrize.org.
  18. ^ "Nobel Week Stockholm • 2019" (PDF). nobelprize.org.
  19. ^ "Watch on BBC World News: nine-part series based on UNESCO's "General History of Africa" book collection • 2019". fr.unesco.org. 30 June 2017.
  20. ^ Zeinab Badawi | An African History of Africa: From the Dawn of Civilization to Independence. Penguin Books. Retrieved 6 October 2023.
  21. ^ Chigudu, Simukai (12 April 2024). "An African History of Africa by Zeinab Badawi review – an insider's take". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 June 2024.
  22. ^ Chigudu, Simukai (12 April 2024). "Review | An African History of Africa by Zeinab Badawi review – an insider's take". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Crisis Group Welcomes Eight New Trustees to its Board International Crisis Group (ICG), press release of 19 January 2023.
  24. ^ Advisory Board, New College of the Humanities. Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ National Portrait Gallery reappointments Archived 13 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine August 2008.
  26. ^ The Future of International Development. Foreign Policy Centre
  27. ^ ODI Annual Report 2002 Overseas Development Institute
  28. ^ "About the Royal Opera House". Royal Opera House.
  29. ^ Dele Meiji Fatunla, "Zeinab Badawi is the new chairperson of the Royal African Society", Royal African Society, 1 September 2014.
  30. ^ "Senior BBC Presenter Zeinab Badawi appointed Chair of Royal Africa Society", Kenya London News, 2 September 2014.
  31. ^ "Arunma Oteh takes over from Zeinab Badawi as chair of The Royal African Society". The Guardian. Nigeria. 27 July 2021. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  32. ^ Julian Clover, "AIB hands out 2009 awards", Broadband TV News, 4 November 2009.
  33. ^ "Award-winning journalists, prehistorians and world-leading economists honoured with prestigious British Academy prizes and medals". British Academy. 20 August 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  34. ^ Prynne, Miranda (10 October 2013). "Angry neighbours of BBC newsreader attempt to block her 'garden room'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
Media offices
Preceded by
new position
Main Presenter of World News Today
Succeeded by

External links[edit]