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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July 2004, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
2m gift for Middle Eastern art
Figurine of a Seated Man (Sultan Tughril), Iran (Kashan), late 13th century.  The Khalili Collection, London
Figurine of a seated man from Iran
Oxford University is to open a new centre for Middle Eastern art and culture thanks to a huge cash donation from an Iranian millionaire.

The 2.25m windfall from Professor Nasser D Khalili will be used to bring some of the world's leading scholars of Islamic art to Oxford.

Prof Khalili, 59, is a patron of the arts and has amassed some 25,000 treasures in his collections.

The Khalili Research Centre will open at 2-4 St John Street in 2005.

Jeremy Johns, who will be the new centre's first director, said: "With Professor Khalili's help, we plan to expand beyond our present strengths in Islamic art and archaeology into the related fields of pre-Islamic Iran, pre-Islamic Arabia and Jewish art.

"The importance of this exciting initiative is primarily academic, but not exclusively so, for the study of art and material culture transcends the ethnic and religious divisions that plague the modern Middle East.

"The KRC will be founded on the common ground shared by all the great cultures of the region."

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