Professor Nasser D. Khalili KCSS KCFO
Chairman and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
© Vincent Aiello
Professor Nasser D. Khalili is a world-renowned scholar, collector and philanthropist, who is often referred to as the ‘cultural ambassador of Islam’.
Through his foundations and trusts, Khalili has made substantial donations to a number of different organisations, institutions and charities. Most notably, an endowment was made to the University of Oxford to establish the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East; and a donation to establish The Khalili Chair of Islamic Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
In 2009, he made a gift of 40,000 copies of his book ‘The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture (Vision Of Splendour)’ which were distributed to schools in the UK and across the Muslim world.
Professor Khalili founded the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation in 1995, and over the years has donated extensively to its activities, including its flagship Interfaith Explorers educational project, which was developed with leading educational specialists and is solely funded by the D.Khalili Charitable Settlement.
Interfaith Explorers was launched at the Central London Mosque in May 2012, in the presence of its patrons HRH The Duke of York and HE The Ambassador of the UAE representing HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development. Senior politicians and religious leaders were also present, representing the monotheistic Faiths.
He has been awarded many honours, including Trustee of the City of Jerusalem, and in 2007 the High Sheriff of London award for his cultural contribution to London. He is Knight Commander of the Royal Order of St Francis I (KCFO), and exceptionally received Knighthoods from two Popes. His Holiness the late Pope John Paul II honoured him as Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Sylvester (KSS) and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has further elevated him to Knight Commander in the said order (KCSS) for his work in the pursuit of peace, education and culture amongst nations.
In 2012, he was further honoured in this field by UNESCO, as a Goodwill Ambassador.
Read a selection of Professor Khalili’s speeches about respect and understanding below: