Omar Imady is a scholar, an international novelist, and poet. He was born in Damascus to an American mother and Syrian father, and grew up in a world of constant, vibrant contrasts. Educated at Macalester College (BA) and the University of Pennsylvania (MA & PhD), Omar has lived in America, the Middle East, and now resides between Scotland and Essex, in the company of his cat, Sabrina. He loves to walk in remote and unexplored places, traveling by trains and boats (he does everything he can to avoid planes), and is addicted to genealogy research.
His career has been as eclectic as the places in which he has lived. After working at the United Nations Development Programme, Omar became the Academic Dean of the New York Institute of Technology in Jordan. From there, he joined the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews as Senior Fellow, Deputy Director of the Centre, and Managing Editor of the Centre’s journal, Syria Studies. In the spring of 2021, Omar left his position at the University of St Andrews (though he remains a Senior Fellow of the Centre), focusing instead on his career as a full-time author. Omar writes daily as he listens to jazz and overdoses on coffee (made using only glass).
Alongside his professional career, Omar is a life-long disciple of Bashir al-Bani, a Damascene Sufi spiritual master, and has published a collection of his teacher’s stories, When You’re Shoved from the Right Look to the Left, a beautiful mix of the profound and the humorous.
In his creative work, Omar weaves together threads from the multifarious dimensions of his life, binding fact to fiction through the written word. Omar delved into writing at 14, when he began his first forays into the world of poetry. He is an avid poet, and a keen lyrical craftsman. His first novel, The Gospel of Damascus, a Book of the Year Award finalist, was published in 2012. It is currently in its fourth English edition, and has been translated into Arabic, French and Spanish. The novel interlaces Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions to tell the story of a Damascene man who becomes totally consumed with the idea that Damascus is the site of the Second Coming of Christ.
In his latest work, When Her Hand Moves (Villa Magna Publishing), Omar combines the sensual and the sacred, the intellectual and the imaginary, the divine and the dangerous in three stories which examine, interrogate, and challenge our understanding of universal truths. Omar has also written a book on Syria's recent political history, The Unauthorised Biography of a Damascene Reformer, which is scheduled for publication by Pen and Sword Books in January 2023. A complete list of Omar's forthcoming book projects can be found here.
Omar is also the author, and co-author, of several scholarly works on Syria and Sufism, including: Historical Dictionary of Syria; The Syrian Uprising: Domestic Origins and Early Trajectory; Syria at War: Eight Years On; and The Rise and Fall of Muslim Civil Society. Though he does not identify with any specific political organisation or movement, Omar's political vision is rooted in the Great Arab Revolt and Syria's brief experience with an enlightened constitutional monarchy under King Faisal.