Professor Nasser D. Khalili

Founder, The Khalili Collections, Nour Foundation, UK

Professor Nasser D. Khalili

Professor Nasser D. Khalili is a scholar, collector and philanthropist of international standing, who has often been called the ‘cultural ambassador of Islam’ by leaders of Muslim countries. After completing his schooling and national service in Iran he moved to the USA in 1967, where he continued his education. In 1978 he settled in the United Kingdom.
Since 1970 he has assembled, under the auspices of the Khalili Family Trust, five of the world’s largest and most comprehensive art collections: The Arts of the Islamic World (700-1900), Japanese Art of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Swedish Textiles (1700-1900), Spanish Damascened Metalwork (1850-1900) and Enamels of the World (1700-2000). The five collections comprise a total of about 25,000 works.

Selections from each Collection have been exhibited in over 35 world-class museums and key objects have been loaned to more than 40 different museums and institutions around the world.

Nasser Khalili is a frequent lecturer. He has also made notable contributions to the scholarship of Islamic art, having endowed in 1989, the Nasser D. Khalili Chair of Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, the first chair devoted to the decorative arts of Islam to be founded at any university. He has also supported a research fellowship in Islamic art at the University of Oxford. He is a graduate, Associate Research Professor and Member of the Governing Body of the School of Oriental and African Studies, and an Honorary Fellow of the University of London.

The Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East at the University of Oxford opened in 2005. In early 2011, the Trust endowed The Nasser D Khalili Chair of Islamic studies at Queens College, New York where Professor Khalili graduated in early 1970s. He was appointed to the International Board of Overseers at Tufts University, Massachusetts in 1997 and in 2003 received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from Boston University. In May 2005 he also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts London, and in 2007 he was given the High Sheriff of London award for his cultural contribution to London.

His numerous international awards also include the Trustee of the City of Jerusalem, Kinght Commander of the Royal Order of St Francis I and two knighthoods from two Popes.

He is the co-founder and chairman of the Maimonides Foundation, a charity which promotes peace and understanding between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.