The Hamad bin Khalifa Travel Fellowship provides full financial support to up to 15 individuals who wish to attend the Symposium, covering the cost of their travel, meals and lodging and special events. These fellowships, which are underwritten by our sponsors, VCUQatar, the Qatar Foundation and VCU School of the Arts, are intended to enable junior and senior scholars at all levels to attend the symposium. Preference is given to applicants from diverse backgrounds with long-standing research interests in Islamic art and architecture, especially those that are currently working on a project that relates to the symposium theme.

We are delighted that we will be hosting the following scholars, and thank again all of those who applied for a fellowship this cycle.

Hayat Ahlili is a Phd student at Leiden University (Netherlands), working on the role of scripture in early Islamic Egypt and the study of Quranic amulets on papyri and paper.

Ali Akbar is a researcher at Bayt al-Qur’an & Museum Istiqlal, Jakarta, Indonesia, and works on the codicology and calligraphy of Southeast Asian Qur’ans and manuscripts; his blog (in Indonesian) on the Qur’an in Southeast Asia can be found at

Mark Dike DeLancey is Associate Professor of African and Islamic art history at DePaul University with a current research interest in manuscripts and calligraphy from Mauritania.

El Sebaie
Sherif El Sebaie is a Cultural Diplomacy expert focusing on presenting the rich Muslim cultural heritage to Western societies. He has taught a course on Arabic Language, Islamic Civilization and Arts at the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, since 2001, and has also curated exhibitions there.

Anastasia Grib is Executive Editor of the Guide to Islamic Calligraphy. She has a Phd from the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in St. Petersburg. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sainsbury Research Centre for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (University of East Anglia) and at the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Material Text Cultures’ (University of Heidelberg). Her current research focus is Qur’anic board tradition and Islamic calligraphy.

R. B. Davidson MacLaren is Executive Director of The Islamic Manuscript Association, assistant head of the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, and a visiting scholar at the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge.

J.R. Osborn is an Assistant Professor of Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) and Co-Director of Georgetown University’s Technology Design Studio. He holds particular interests in writing systems and the semiotics of visual communication.

Geoffrey Roper was head of the Islamic Bibliography Unit at Cambridge University Library, and has written and lectured extensively on Middle Eastern book history, as well as being Editor of the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (1992-94) and of The History of the Book in the Middle East (2013).

Soraya Syed is a classically trained calligrapher and artist. Born in London, Syed’s practice is a process of disciplined freedom; she enjoys the constant tension between remaining true to her classical training while exploring new possibilities. Her more recent projects involve technology, from app development to holography.

Selena Shen Wang, Chief Curator of the Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology, specializing in Chinese painting and calligraphy.