Dr. James Onley named to endowed INS chair

Dr. James Onley (courtesy photo)

By Zain Basalat 

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH — Dr James Onley, a professor of history in the International Studies Department at the American University of Sharjah, has been appointed as the Ahmed Seddiqi Endowed Chair in Gulf and Middle Eastern Studies. 

The Ahmed Seddiqi Chair in Gulf and Middle East Studies at AUS was founded by the Seddiqi family with an endowment of 15 million dirhams in honour of their late father. 

Onley is a professor of history in the INS Department at AUS. He received his DPhil in history from the University of Oxford.  

“I spent the early years of my academic career at AUS, during 2003-05, so this is a home-coming for me,” Onley said of his time at AUS. “When I first joined the university, AUS was only six years old; now it’s 25.  It has come a long way since then and I am delighted to be able to contribute to its continuing success once again.”

Onley specializes in the history and heritage of the Gulf region, the Gulf’s historical connections with South Asia, archives and archival digitization, and digital humanities. He is also the founding editor of the Journal of Arabian Studies, the leading international journal in Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies, editing 23 issues since 2011. 

Prior to joining AUS, he served as the Qatar National Library’s first director of historical research and partnerships. In this role, he was in charge of finding historical collections pertaining to the Gulf region in other archives around the globe and then negotiating and overseeing the subsequent archival digitization projects in order to make those collections accessible online through the Qatar Digital Library (www.QDL.qa), the largest digital archive for Middle Eastern content in the world. 

Onley is a sought-after resource for governments seeking advice on the history and heritage of the Gulf, and has been involved with major archival and museum projects in the UAE, Qatar, and Oman.