Omar Al-Qattan was born in Beirut and moved to the UK at the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War. Following a degree in English literature from Oxford University, he studied film directing at the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacles (INSAS) in Brussels.
His first film, Dreams & Silence, an early exploration of political Islam, won the prestigious 1991 Joris Ivens Award. In 1994, he produced Michel Khleifi’s Tale of the Three Jewels, shot entirely in the Occupied Gaza Strip. The film premiered at Cannes and won a host of international awards. He has since worked on numerous films, including Khleifi’s Zindeeq (2009 Muhr Award for Best Arab Feature, Dubai Film Festival).
A founding member of the A. M. Qattan Foundation, he launched its cultural track, including the Palestinian Audio-visual Programme. The Foundation also runs a children’s library and cultural centre in Gaza City and a programme for educational research and development focused on Palestinian school teachers. In 2008, also as part of the Foundation, he established The Mosaic Rooms in London, a cultural space to showcase and celebrate the cultures of the Arab World. He was then Chair of the 2013 and 2015 Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture in London and of the Palestinian Museum in the Occupied Territories during its inaugural years, from 2012 to 2017.
In addition, Al-Qattan is chair of Al-Hani Construction and Trading Company in Kuwait, a leader in the construction of large-scale public projects such as the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre in Kuwait City and Kuwait National Library.
He has contributed to a number of English and Arabic language publications, such as the New Statesman, Vertigo, OpenDemocracy, CounterPunch, Al Hayat and Al Quds al Arabi, as well as co-editing bi-lingual publications including New Horizons in Palestinian Art and Hope & the Aesthetic Moment, both catalogues of work by young Palestinian artists. He has also written chapters of two books: Dreams of a Nation (on Palestinian cinema) and Nakba: Palestine, 1948 and the Claims of Memory.