The Middle East Institute

Profile: The Middle East Institute

1- Name of NGO:

The Middle East Institute

2- Brief & Mission:

The Middle East Institute, established in 1946, holds the distinction of being the oldest think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated exclusively to the study of the Middle East. As a non-partisan organization, it offers expert policy analysis, educational programs, professional development services, and serves as a platform for engaging with the arts and culture of the region. However, according to sources, there are claims that the institution is being utilized by the UAE as a tool to safeguard its interests on the international stage. While the institute positions itself as a non-profit entity, it is reportedly heavily supported by the UAE government. Moreover, allegations have been made regarding the institute’s involvement in activities aimed at advancing the UAE’s interests on a global level.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

The Middle East Institute appears to be leading the way for a new kind of think tank: one that thrives on the intersection of policy and culture. Institution Strings attached to UAE funding typically include organizing events on specific topics that present a narrative favored by the UAE and to which specific audiences are invited, writing op-eds and research papers, and strengthening ties with particular individuals. There is also a “secret” donation to the Middle East Institute, orchestrated by Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s Ambassador to the US.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

Sources have made claims that this institute actively advances the foreign policy objectives of the UAE, as its agenda closely aligns with the policies of the UAE government. It is also alleged that the institution is fully supported by the UAE government.

5- Sources of Funding:

In 2017, The Intercept reported that the UAE had made a “secret” donation of $20 million to the Middle East Institute. This donation was reportedly orchestrated by Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s Ambassador to the US.

6- Activities:

The institution has been criticized for its work, which has been described as either lacking critical analysis or excessively praising the UAE. It is evident that the institution is engaged in activities that support the narrative favored by the UAE. The UAE ambassador actively interacts with think tanks in the USA, including the Middle East Institution. It is not uncommon for foreign government funding to come with certain expectations, such as organizing events that align with the UAE’s preferred narrative, selectively inviting audiences, producing opinion pieces and research papers, and fostering relationships with individuals to enhance connections and influence.

7- NGO Leadership:

Paul Salem serves as the President and CEO of the Middle East Institute (MEI). Kate Seelye holds the position of Senior Vice President at MEI.

8- Controversy:

Reports indicate that the institution, representing the interests of the UAE, has effectively shaped media narratives through close collaboration with journalists and reporters from multiple mainstream media outlets. It is a common practice for foreign government funding to entail specific expectations, such as organizing events that align with the preferred narrative of the UAE, selectively inviting audiences, producing opinion pieces and research papers, and cultivating relationships with individuals to enhance influence. The primary goal of the think tank is to protect the interests of the UAE.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:https://www.mei.edu
  • Address:USA
  • Email: mej@mei.edu

10- Classification/Blacklist:

The institution has been labeled as blacklisted because of its associations with UAE governments.

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