A Saudi Arabian donor has given £5.4 million to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) for a new Islamic gallery. The Jameel Gallery is being funded by Hartwell PLC, an Oxford-based company owned by the Abdul Latif Jameel Group which has its headquarters in Jeddah.
Abdul Latif Jameel, who died in 1993, established the firm 60 years ago and it is now run by his son Mohammed. The company’s main business is in automobile sales and financial services, and it has become the world’s largest Toyota dealership. The family’s wealth is estimated by Forbes at $3 billion and they recently bought a large London residence in St James’s.
The V&A’s extensive Islamic collection was begun in 1848 and is now one of the most important in Europe, with the world’s greatest collection of ceramics. The current display, which was closed last December, dates back to the 1950s. While work is underway, objects from the V&A’s Islamic collection will be seen in a travelling exhibition which starts its tour at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (18 July-6 February 2005). The new V&A Islamic gallery will open in 2006.