Sir Nasser David Khalili
Professor Sir Nasser David Khalili KCSS PhD is a British-Iranian scholar, collector, and philanthropist based in the UK and Switzerland. Born in Iran and educated at Queens College, City University of New York and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, he is a naturalised British citizen. He had dedicated over 50 years of his life to the collection, research, publication, conservation, and exhibition, of the eight Khalili Collections, with each considered among the most important in its field. These collections total 35,000 artworks and include the largest private collections of Islamic art and Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage, as well as one of the most extensive collections of World Enamels and Japanese Art of the Meiji Period. The collections have been exhibited in 126 leading museums and institutions around the world, and over 88 out of 100 publications and exhibition catalogues dedicated to them have been published to date.
Through his philanthropic organisation, the Khalili Foundation, he supports a range of activities to promote cultural diversity and mutual understanding and dialogue between Abrahamic religions through cultural philanthropy. His donations funded the creation of a research centre in Islamic art at the University of Oxford as well as the first university chair in the subject, at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He also supports the creation and distribution of educational materials and has written and distributed a history of Islamic art and architecture.
Khalili is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and has taken part in United Nations and UNESCO events on the theme of peace between cultures. His work for intercultural dialogue and peace has been recognised with honorary degrees from five universities and awards from the French National Assembly and the High Sheriff of Greater London. He is the recipient of the title of Officier of Legion of Honour, presented by French President François Hollande. He is also a trustee of the City of Jerusalem and has received knighthoods from two Popes. He received a knighthood in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to interfaith relations and charity”.