Top international anchors of Arab origin

Zainab Badawi

Zainab Badawi
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Updated 21 October 2021

Zainab Badawi

Zainab Badawi

Current occupation: President of SOAS, host of BBC HARDTalk and BBC Global Questions

Former employers: Yorkshire TV, Channel 4 News, ITV

Education: Oxford University; SOAS, University of London

Nationality: Sudanese-British

Award-winning Sudanese-British broadcaster and journalist Zeinab Badawi is known for anchoring the BBC’s HARDTalk show, an in-depth interview program famous for hosting world leaders and asking them difficult questions. 

Born in Sudan but raised in London, Badawi comes from a family of dedicated newscasters, with her father Mohammed-Khair El-Badawi having worked for the BBC’s Arabic Service. Her great grandfather pioneered women’s education in Sudan. 

Fluent in both Arabic and English, Badawi asserted herself in the media and was awarded an honorary doctorate from SOAS, University of London from which she is an alumni. She was also recently appointed as the president of the school.

Badawi became a mainstay on screens across the UK and the world for her interviews with some of the world’s most powerful personalities. Her most influential interview was conducted with former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. 

Her success earned her advisory roles and positions as a member on the board of trustees of some of Britain’s most notable organizations, including the BBC World Service Trust, the Overseas Development Institute, the Royal Opera House, and the National Portrait Gallery. She also chaired the Royal African Society from 2014-2021. 

Badawi is also known for hosting a nine-part series, The History of Africa, based on UNESCO’s General History of Africa which aired on BBC World News.