27 January 2014
Funding strengthens largest centre of Middle Eastern expertise in Europe.
SOAS, University of London, is to receive a gift of £1 million from the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, the London-based charitable foundation promoting better understanding between the Middle East and the wider world through education and culture.
This new funding will enable the relocation of the London Middle East Institute to a prestigious and more accessible new home at 21 Russell Square, which is a distinguished historic building adjacent to the vibrant SOAS Bloomsbury precinct. To be named the MBI Al Jaber Building, this new location expands the LMEI’s facilities to include an integrated conference room for seminars and events. Recent research from the Institute has examined the results and prospects of the Arab Spring, and the role of media in social, cultural and political change in the Middle East. The funding will also support SOAS’ Centenary Fundraising Campaign, which will celebrate the institution’s first 100 years in 2016.
His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber is a long-standing supporter of SOAS and the £1 million gift is the most recent in a series of substantial donations. The Foundation’s support dates back to the 1990s and includes a significant number of Master’s level scholarships, as well as supporting academic activities and an endowment. HE Sheikh Mohamed is the sole Founding Patron and Donor of the London Middle East Institute (LMEI) at SOAS, and endowed the post of the LMEI Director.
Commenting on why he had chosen to increase his support for SOAS and the LMEI, HE Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber said: “When I started the Foundation, it was to give talented scholars from the Arab world freedom of opportunity to shape their own futures, and that of their communities, countries and the region. SOAS was then the obvious choice to support as it is an extraordinary academic environment where East and West learn about each other through transformational cultural dialogue. Education is the catalyst for improved mutual understanding and I am proud to be the Founding Patron and Donor of the LMEI, which has unrivalled intellectual capital and expertise on the Middle East region.
“My hope is for this gift to enable the LMEI to flourish in its new home and welcome many more students, researchers, government organisations, media and business people from around the world to engage in its activities and increase their understanding of the Middle East and North Africa.”
SOAS Director, Professor Paul Webley said: “His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber has been an acclaimed and generous funder of education for many years and SOAS is extremely fortunate to be able to call him a hugely valued friend and supporter. We are very grateful for his continued support of the LMEI and its work to promote deeper understanding of the Middle East in the wider world.”
LMEI Director, Dr Hassan Hakimian said: “Taking up prime physical space in an historic part of central London is a major boost to the LMEI’s unrivalled intellectual capital and expertise on the Middle East. At a time when our region is a focal point of public and academic interest globally, this support from our founding patron and donor recognises the importance of our work. This enables us to plan ahead and prepare for the next decade and to continue to contribute to the educational and academic needs and challenges of the MENA region in a unique way.”