Ali Omar Ermes

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Ali Omar Ermes (Arabic:علي عمر الرميص) is an artist, writer and community activist. Having spent a period in Libya during which he wrote constantly and published in Arabic, he continues to write on various issues in both Arabic and English, but today his primary focus is on conference papers. In his art, articles, ideas and speeches, he addresses a variety of social and cultural issues, including identity, language, education, art, media and community. In addition, he serves as chair of the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in Kensington, London.


Born in Libya in 1945, Ali Omar Ermes travelled to England to further his education; he earned his diploma in design at the Plymouth School of art and design in 1970 and later attended the Central School of Art in London for a short period. On his return to Libya, he wrote extensively and headed the visual arts section of All Arts magazine. In 1974 he was contracted to work as the visual arts consultant to the festival director for the World of Islam Festival (1976), preparing for exhibitions on Islamic art and culture and meeting artists and calligraphers, museum directors and various intellectuals across the Muslim world. He worked for a few years writing and researching, travelling frequently, on different artistic and publishing projects until 1981, when he decided to move to England where he lives today with his family. Over the years, Ermes has participated in various Muslim community projects, written about many important issues and has exhibited in some sixty to seventy exhibitions around the world.[1]

Ali Omar Ermes is a writer and a speaker who has published numerous articles in English and Arabic newspapers and magazines, among them Q News and Al Quds Al Arabi, although today he mainly prepares papers for presentation at conferences. Ermes has spoken at national and international conferences on a variety of social and cultural issues. A selection of his papers includes: ‘Art and Islam’ (‘Mutualities: Britain and Islam’ conference, Royal Commonwealth Society, London, April 1999), ‘Contemporary Islamic arts: a positive contribution to London’ (‘The Middle East in London’ conference, SOAS, June 2001); ‘A glimpse of Islamic heritage’ (‘Islam UK’, the BBC’s Islam Season, SOAS, September 2001), ‘The invisibility of the Arab community’ (London Civic Forum, March 2002); ‘The importance of faith-based education for the Muslim community’ (‘Faith in the UK and Development Education’ seminar organised by the Development Education Association, London, March 2003), ‘The Arabic language as a national cultural issue’ (‘Better Arabic Calligraphy’ conference, Calligraphy Centre, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, July 2004); ‘The Arab media in Britain’ (‘Domination, Expression and Liberation in the Middle East’ conference, London Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, July 2004); ‘Culture beyond stereotype: an artist’s experience’ (Islam and Arts’ conference, Oldham, November 2004); ‘Multi-Cultural Europe – The Muslim perspective’, VIII conference, ‘European culture’, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, October 2005); ‘Plural identity and European citizenship’ (European Parliament, Brussels, November 2007).

Community activities[edit]

Ermes participates in various social and cultural activities and endeavours. He is the chairman of the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre (MCHC) in the Kensington and Chelsea Borough, London. The MCHC provides a wide range of social, cultural and educational training as well as religious facilities to people in North Kensington, London and the surrounding areas. .[2]

He has also served on the executive board of the London Civic Forum, an organisation that engages the capital’s civil society in the regional governance of London. Ermes is the co-founder, and was the co-chairman, of the Forum of Faiths in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Select exhibitions[edit]

His most recent showings include works on display at the State Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia (November 2007); the Meem Gallery, Dubai (January 2007 and April 2008); the University of California, Los Angeles Fowler Museum, USA (October 2007/8); the Ghaf Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi (April 2007); the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, USA (May 2007); the Dar Al-Funoon Gallery, Kuwait (March 2008); the British Museum’s ‘Word into Art’, London and Dubai (2006 and 2008); Tate Britain’s ‘East-West: Objects Between Cultures’ (September 2006/7) and Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai (March 2008) as well as in Sotheby's and Christie's auctions in London and Dubai.


  1. ^ ‘A lifetime of painting’, Venetia Porter, Q News No: 302 & 303, London, 1 March 1999
  2. ^ ""Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre profile"". Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.

External links[edit]

Arabic articles[edit]

Articles by Ali Omar Ermes in Arabic[edit]

English links[edit]