31 January 2013
A significant collection of specialist maps of Persia has been donated to the Centre for Iranian Studies at SOAS by Dr Cyrus Ala'i.
An internationally renowned scholar, Dr Ala'i has made the donation in recognition of SOAS's rich history of scholarship on, and contribution to, Iranian studies.
The donation, from Dr Ala'i's private collection, consists of two hundred and fifty five rare maps and other publications., The donation, which will be referred to as 'Dr Cyrus Ala'i's Map Collection of Persia', will be received and managed by the Archives & Special Collections section of the SOAS library – one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Dr Ala'i is best known for his ground-breaking works on the maps of Iran (General Maps of Persia 1477-1925 and Special Maps of Persia 1477-1925, both titles published by Brill, 2005 and 2010, respectively).
Left to right: Dr Hassan Hakimian, MBI Al Jaber Director of the London Middle East Institute, Dr Cyrus Ala'i, Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, and Dr Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies
The donation was formally received by Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, Dr Hassan Hakimian, Director of the London Middle East Institute and Dr Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at a private ceremony on Thursday 31 January 2013. A public event to celebrate the donation will be announced later in the year.
The Centre for Iranian Studies was established in 2010 under the umbrella of the London Middle East Institute, the focus of SOAS's expertise on the MENA region. Dr Hassan Hakimian said: “We are very grateful to Dr Ala'i for this extremely generous donation. A unique collection of this nature will add a new dimension to Iranian Studies at SOAS and will inspire a new generation of young and upcoming researchers in this hitherto neglected field.”