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Nasser David Khalili: Promoting Cultural Understanding Through Philanthropy

Source: PARSA Community Foundation

Among art collectors and academics, Dr. Nasser David Khalili is known as the "cultural ambassador of Islam." His collection of Islamic art is the largest privately held in the world - with over 20,000 items. As a Jewish Iranian, Khalili is also a dedicated proponent of interfaith understanding and dialogue, and art's role in moving both forward.

Born in Isfahan in 1945, Dr. Khalili settled in the United Kingdom in 1978, where he has assembled not only a collection of Islamic art, but also collections of Japanese Meiji art, Swedish textiles and Spanish metalwork as part of the Khalili Family Trust. To date, he has held over 35 exhibitions around the world to share this collection with the public.

Dr. Khalili is chairman and cofounder of the Maimonides Foundation, an organization which aims to promote peace and acceptance among Jews and Muslims. He is also a cofounder of the U.K.-based Iran Heritage Foundation and a Trustee of the City of Jerusalem, an honor bestowed to him in recognition of his efforts to bridge religious divides and promote cultural knowledge. He has received numerous other awards recognizing his philanthropy, including the High Sheriff of London award in recognition for his cultural contributions to the city.

In 2005, Dr. Khalili published The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture, which has been translated into ten languages. Dr. Khalili's passion for Islamic art has guided his philanthropic endeavors as well. In 1989 he endowed the Nasser D. Khalili Chair of Islamic Art at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, where he is Professor and Chair of Islamic Art. Additionally, he has boldly supported programs at the University of Oxford:  a research fellowship in Islamic Art and a 2 million endowment gift to support the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East.

Dr. Khalili has become a leader in the area of interreligious and intercultural understanding through his scholarly and philanthropic accomplishments. As he says, "Religion and politics have their own languages, but the language of art is universal. Never has there been a greater need for this universality."

... Payvand News - 02/20/09 ... --

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