The existential challenge of Jordan’s unquenchable thirst

Jordan is facing an existential challenge and it has nothing to do with the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the war in neighboring Syria, or the threat of militant Islamists. The challenge is climate change, which is responsible for poor rainy seasons over the past few years. The situation has become so bad that in the past few weeks the government admitted that six of the kingdom’s 14 active dams have now completely dried up, exacerbating endemic shortages of water used for drinking, irrigation, and industry.


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Marking 75 Years of Excellence

This year marks the Middle East Institute’s 75th anniversary. As a leading American organization focused on the Middle East, MEI is leveraging its history and legacy by launching MEI@75, a three-year campaign to deepen and expand our work towards building the US-Middle East relationship.

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Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE

Dec. 3, 2021 - Mar. 31, 2022

Marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates, Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE brings together 12 artists reflecting the diverse contemporary art ecosystem in the UAE today. With roots in the Gulf, the Levant, Southeast Asia, and the United States, the artists — all of whom now call the UAE home — challenge standard narratives about the Emirates through an intergenerational dialogue exploring their social, cultural, and natural landscapes.

Through works focusing on subjects like the environment, consumerism, and the impact of rapid urbanization, the featured artists explore themes of permanence and transience, time and memory. In the process, they offer a sample of the multi-faceted community of practitioners contributing to the UAE’s dynamic cultural output on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee — the community that shares the space Between the Sky and the Earth.

The exhibition is curated by Munira Al Sayeh and has been organized in partnership with The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, with special thanks to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C.

We are accepting appointments to visit this exhibition in person starting from December 6.

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Photo: The Day We Met Thomas (Diptych), 2021, Hashel Al Lamki (courtesy of the artist)

Expanding Knowledge, Narrowing Divides

MEI fosters greater understanding of the Middle East through non-partisan policy analysis, educational services, and promotion of regional arts and culture.


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D.C.’s only gallery dedicated to contemporary and modern art from the Middle East

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MEI Art Gallery Open for Timed Visits

The MEI Art Gallery accepts in-person appointments to view its current exhibitions. Hours are Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm, excluding federal holidays. Please note that occupancy is currently limited to no more than eight visitors in the Gallery at a time.

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Oman Library Now Open By Appointment

Please call or email the librarian to set up a time to visit, research, or browse our ongoing book sale. Also keep an eye out for new acquisitions to the catalog and the publication of online resource guides.

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Leading Regional Expertise

MEI’s scholars draw on deep ties and decades of experience working in the region to build better understanding of Middle East policy.

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Research Programs

Led by renowned scholars and regional experts, MEI's policy research programs produce original analysis, convene roundtables and public events, and work to advance understanding of the complexities of regional policy.

Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies

MEI’s Afghanistan and Pakistan studies center aims to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of the politics, economy, society and foreign policy of these two countries. It works with scholars to produce original research, sponsors lectures, produces opinion pieces, and provides expert analysis with the goal of promoting knowledge about Afghanistan and Pakistan among the American public and within policy making circles.

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Arabian Peninsula Affairs

MEI’s Arabian Peninsula Affairs program aims to enhance U.S. understanding of the major issues and opportunities in front of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council who are key political, security, and economic partners for the United States. It is a hub for analysis of developments within the GCC and the broader region, including Iran, Yemen, and the Gulf and Red Sea littorals.

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Climate and Water Program

The Climate and Water Program seeks to assess and understand the broader impacts of climate change in the region, with emphasis on water resources management, sustainability, and the environment. The program also explores the use of water and environmental policy, climate adaptation and mitigation, and green initiatives to enhance the climate resilience of the Middle East and North Africa.

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Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues

Establishing spaces for current and former officials and experts to engage in problem-solving dialogues in which they discuss emerging political and security trends in the region, resolution of conflicts, and broader issues related to regional security.

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Countering Terrorism & Extremism

MEI's Countering Terrorism and Extremism program seeks to generate a more locally-rooted understanding of the threats and challenges of today and tomorrow - grasping where they come from and why they come about, and most importantly, how to more effectively and sustainably defeat them.

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Cyber Program

MEI's Cyber Program studies the intersection of technology, security and governance in the Middle East, with a particular focus on international security, foreign relations, privacy, and human security. The Initiative seeks to establish a greater understanding of cybersecurity issues among Middle East experts, and to examine how the cyber domain will impact the future of the region.

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Defense and Security

MEI's Defense and Security program provides rigorous and multidisciplinary analysis of the current and emerging defense and security challenges and opportunities facing the United States and its regional partners. It also works to create a unique, credible, and independent platform for defense and security stakeholders from both the United States and the region to more closely interact, exchange views, and share experiences regarding various matters of national security.

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Economics and Energy Program

The Program on Economics and Energy seeks to advance understanding of the impact of a global energy transition away from hydrocarbons for those traditional oil and gas exporters of the Middle East. The program also investigates the relationship between oil and gas exporters and importers across MENA, in the role of financial aid and investment, remittances, and labor markets.

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Egypt Program

MEI's Egypt Program looks at the country's security, economic and political developments. It seeks to examine Egypt’s domestic developments and regional role through research, private roundtables and public events.

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Frontier Europe Initiative

MEI’s Frontier Europe Initiative explores interactions between Middle East countries and their Frontier Europe neighbors – the parts of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus which form a frontier between Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East. The program examines the growing energy, trade, security and political relationships with the aim of developing greater understanding of the interplay between these strategically important regions.

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Iran Program

MEI’s Iran program covers Iranian domestic politics, civil society and social trends, and Tehran’s soft- and hard-power approach to geopolitical competition with other regional states through research, articles, papers, and public and private events.

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Lebanon Program

The past two years have been grueling for Lebanon. Political, humanitarian, financial, and socio-economic crises have converged. In parallel, citizens have risen up to demand accountability, reforms, and an end to corruption and incompetence. In such critical times, MEI’s dedicated Lebanon program seeks to inform and advance the policy conversation on Lebanon in the United States and globally. The program particularly focuses on investigating and promoting viable paths forward for Lebanon as it battles through one of the darkest periods in its 100-year modern history.

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Middle East - Asia Project (MAP)

MAP explores the multidimensional relations between the Middle East and Asia through scholarly analysis of cross-regional economic, political, security, and social/cultural interactions and their implications. It seeks to foster collaborative research on these issues through building an online community of experts and forging institutional partnerships.

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North Africa and the Sahel

The North Africa and Sahel Program studies this region’s evolving internal social, political, and economic dynamics and draws attention to its growing geopolitical significance. The program brings the voices and experiences of new and established actors to a global audience and provides a space to build closer ties and promote shared peace and prosperity.

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Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs

The Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs examines the future of Palestinian politics and the Palestinian national movement as well as the prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of the conflict in the stability of the broader Middle East.

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Strategic Foresight Initiative

MEI's Strategic Foresight Initiative examines key drivers and dynamics at work in the region, thinks strategically, creatively and rigorously about various scenarios, risks and opportunities, and uses methodologically sound approaches to help decision-makers chart a course forward.

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Syria Program

MEI’s Syria Program seeks to provide insightful and grounded research and analysis on all things Syria in order to better inform a wide range of audiences and to help sustain and shape a more meaningful policy-oriented discussion. Drawing on the expertise of over a dozen renowned scholars, the Syria Program covers all aspects of Syria and its ongoing crises - from political, economic, legal, social, ethnic and religious dynamics, to conflict, insurgency and terrorism and the country’s history and possible futures.

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Turkish Studies

Established in 2009, MEI’s Turkish Studies program seeks to highlight and analyze political, economic, and social developments in Turkey through scholarly research and public events. It organizes an annual conference featuring leading experts and policy practitioners from Turkey, the United States, and the EU.

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What We Do

We seek to promote knowledge of the Middle East in America and strengthen understanding of the United States by the peoples and governments of the region. We believe pursuit of this goal is integral to building a world of peace and stability, in which the people of our two regions value our shared humanity.


Our experts shape diplomatic, legislative, and public discourse through publications, private briefings, testimony, and media.


We provide education and resources to the next generation of global leaders.


Our Center for Arts & Culture promotes a more integrated understanding of the Middle East, forging people-to-people connections and creating a destination for exploring the role of the arts in the region.


We elevate voices from the region in international conversation.


Our international conflict resolution dialogues bring together civil society and political leaders to achieve impact through cooperation both in and outside of the region.