Born on 9 November 1932 in Kota Baru, Kelantan, Malaysia. He is married and has three children.
Tan Sri Datuk Dr Omar bin Abdul Rahman, is a graduate in Veterinary Science from Sydney University, Australia (1958) and has a PhD from Cambridge University, UK (1966).
He started his professional career in 1960 in veterinary research, then in 1972 moved on to academic life at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM), now Universiti Putra Malaysia where he was the Founding Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences and the first professor appointed by the university. Tan Sri Datuk Dr Omar played major roles in the establishment phase of the university and in the founding of several faculties and academic programmes. His last position at UPM was as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
In 1984 he was appointed Science Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Department, the first person to hold the position. As Science Adviser, Tan Sri Omar served on a number of national committees including the National Development Planning Committee, the National Council for Scientific Research and Development, the National Information Technology Council and the National Telecommunication Council. He initiated a number of national programmes for enhancing R&D funding, for commercialization of the results of research and for the overall improvement of the national S&T management processes. He was Founding Chairman of the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) and the Founding Chairman of Technology Park Malaysia Corporation. He was also the Founding Joint – Chairman of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) as well as the Founding President and Senior Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. Tan Sri Omar also established Composite Technology (Research) Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (CTRM) which promoted composite material products manufacturing, and initiated the light aircraft industry in Malaysia.
Tan Sri Omar has been and is still active internationally. He has served on the United Nations Council’s for Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) and a number of UNESCO’s Committees, as well as on the OIC’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation (COMSTECH). He was President of the Third World Network of Scientific Organisation (TWNSO), and of the Science Council of Asia.
He is the founding and current chairman of the London-based Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management (CPTM), a Founding Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences since 1986; a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) and an Honorary Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, Kyrgyz Republic. He is one of the prime movers of the International Smart Partnership Dialogues regularly held in Langkawi Malaysia (LID) and in Southern Africa (SAID) which promote the ethos and practice of Smart Partnership, the win-win philosophy for all forms of cooperative undertaking and multi-stakeholder partnering.
For his contributions, Tan Sri Omar has received honorary doctorates from five overseas universities (Stirling, Melbourne, Guelph, Bristol and Queensland) and three Malaysian universities (UTM, UKM and UPM). He received the Asean Achievement Award (Science) in 1993, the Fook Ying Tung South East Asia Prize in 1998 and the Tun Abdul Razak Award (International Category), in 2000.
He retired as Science Adviser in January 2001 after serving for 16 years but remains as the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Special Representative to CPTM. Upon retirement in January 2001, he was given the task of establishing and managing the Venture Capital for Technology Acquisition (VCTA) fund, a government fund managed by Kumpulan Modal Perdana Sdn. Bhd., of which he was CEO from 2001 to April 2007.
Tan Sri Omar sits on the Board of a number of public-listed companies (Kotra Industries Berhad, Encorp Berhad, OSK Ventures International Berhad, Green Packet Berhad, BCT Technology Berhad) and a number of private companies. His current position is the President of Malaysia University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T).