Omar Kholeif

"One of the Art World’s
40 Global Influencers
Under 40"

Apollo Magazine

"A game-changer"

British GQ


Prof. Dr Omar Kholeif CF FRSA (EG/SU/UK) is an award-winning and best-selling author, curator, cultural historian and broadcaster. Kholeif currently serves as director of collections and senior curator at Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), UAE and as visiting professor in critical race in fine art and the creative industries at the Middlesbrugh Institute of Modern Art Research Unit, Teesside University. Initially trained as a political scientist, Kholeif’s career began as a music writer, researcher, and producer of documentaries in the UK broadcast sector. Over the last two decades, they have been vested in leadership roles in museums, galleries, not-for-profits and the public sphere.

The curator of over 70 exhibitions exhibitions of visual art realized on five continents and the producer of hundreds of visual art and film commissions; they are the author/co-author or editor of over forty books, which have been translated into 17 languages. Widely recognised for their prolific and exploratory output, in 2012, Kholeif founded artPost21, a not-for-profit cultural agency that seeks to expolore “platform culture” at the nexus of art, technology, and social justice.

At Sharjah Art Foundation, Professor Kholeif oversees collection acquisition strategy, conservation practices, research, and co-maintains cross-campus oversight, as well as exhibition programming and strategic partnership. Dr. Kholeif has held leadership positions, including, Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago; curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London; senior curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester; curator and department head at Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), Liverpool; head of art and technology at SPACE, London and founding artistic director, UK Arab Film Festival (now Safar Film Festival), the UK’s only continuing film festival devoted to Arab and African cinema.

Some of Kholeif’s cherished curatorial projects of late include, the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, which took place in Italy, Cyprus, and Egypt; ‘Time, Forward!’ at 58th Venice Biennale and the 14th Sharjah Biennial: Leaving the Echo Chamber, which they co-curated. Organizations that have staged or commissioned Dr. Kholeif’s projects include: Manchester International Festival; The Armory Show, New York; Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi; Art Dubai; Dubai Culture; the International Festival Rotterdam; (IFFR) Liverpool Biennial; CPH:DOX; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg; MUDAM, Luxembourg; IMMA: Irish Museum of Modern Art; MAAT: Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon, among others.

Media outlets including, The New York Times, BBC, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, The Economist, The Art Newspaper, Vice, The New Scientist, among others, have profiled Kholeif and their work. Their scholarship has been recognized with awards from the Graham Foundation and Creative Capital | The Andy Warhol Foundation and fellowships from the University iof Chicago and the Barjeel Art Foundation.

They have held positions at the University of Chicago; Hunter College, CUNY; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, University of Oxford, among others. Kholeif is a member or elected fellow of organizations including, the RSA, WCMT, ICOM, CIMAM, AAMC, AICA, IBA, ACASA, AMCA, CAA, AAH and MESA. Up until recently, Kholeif served as Chair of the College Art Association (CAA) committee for the Art Journal Award for Distinction and since 2019 has served as a trustee and Chair: Equality & Inclusion at SPACE, London and as an an ambassador for Mental Health Research UK.

An advocate and spokesperson on inclusion strategies, Kholeif advises a number of organisations on their policies and work culture. Their hybrid-memoir and social history, Internet_Art: From the Birth of the Web to the Rise of NFTs was published by Phaidon in 2023. You can catch one of their avatars, Dr. O on the artPost21 produced podcast, Listening with Artists.

They are currently developing a virtual film, CLOUD DRAIN alongside a burgeoning development slate.



To commission Dr Omar Kholeif, contact them directly at: omarkholeif at gmail dot com. For talks and broadcasting queries: For press:

Photo credits: top(ArtPost21), center(Nathan Keay)

© Omar Kholeif