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London Middle East Institute Finds New Home in the MBI Al Jaber Building, SOAS, Thanks to Support from the MBI Al Jaber Foundation

LONDON, January 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

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.

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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. The donation enables us to plan ahead and prepare for the next decade and to continue to contribute to the educational and academic needs and the challenges of the MENA region in a unique way."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

"I welcome Mohamed Al Jaber's £1m donation to the London Middle East Institute at SOAS which will help forge greater academic links between Britain and the Middle East. I recently visited the UAE to showcase the opportunities for British business to export to these markets and also highlight investment opportunities for Middle Eastern companies in the UK. Improving cultural understanding between nations - which this investment will help to do - will strengthen our trade relationship with this fast-developing region and in turn drive growth."


  • H.E Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber is a self-made Arab entrepreneur and philanthropist who has successfully built an international business empire spanning Europe and the Middle East.  He is founder, Chairman and CEO of the MBI Group, and founder and sole patron of the MBI Al Jaber Foundation; a UK registered charity focused on education, good governance and cultural dialogue, dedicated to building bridges between the Middle East and the wider world. Sheikh Mohamed was appointed UNESCO Special Envoy for Education, Tolerance and Cultures in 2005 and UN Spokesman for Global Forums and Reinventing Government in 2007.   He has received numerous honours and awards for his philanthropic work, including Honorary Fellowships from SOAS, UCL and Oxford University, and the ISESCO and ALECSO gold medals. Noted in the 2013 Sunday Times Giving List, Sheikh Mohamed was also positioned at number 15 in the Sunday Times Rich List. His 2013 book 'Yes, the Arabs Can Too' seeks to cast new light on the current events in the Arab world by providing a contemporary Arab view on the changes that are being wrought both economically and socially across the region.
  • The MBI Al Jaber Foundation has, since the 1990s, given hundreds of promising students from the Middle East and North Africa the chance to continue their education in some of the best universities around the globe. Today MBI Foundation's graduates are performing important work in government, global politics, medicine, literature and scientific research and the Foundation is working to ensure that as many people as possible are given the same opportunities. The MBI Al Jaber Foundation now works with a number of international institutions and seats of learning and supports a variety of global initiatives with trusted partners to create environments to bring people together, promote good governance and cultural dialogue.  MBI Foundation education partners include the American Universities of Beirut and Cairo; SOAS, LSE, Corpus Christi College Oxford, UCL and Westminster universities in the UK; INSEAD, France; MODUL University, Vienna; and the Dar Al-Hekma College in Saudi Arabia. The MBI Al Jaber Foundation is also working with CAABU, Society Voice Foundation and Human Rights Watch.
  • Founded in 1916, SOAS, University of London is the world's leading institution for the study of a wide range of language-based arts, humanities and social sciences subjects concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Today SOAS has the largest concentration of specialist university staff (350+ academics) concerned with the study of these regions anywhere in the world.  SOAS is ranked 26th in the world and sixth in the UK for Arts and Humanities by the Times Higher Education's World Rankings 2013 - 2014.  SOAS is ranked in the top four universities in London according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014 and the QS World University Rankings places SOAS sixth in the UK for academic reputation. SOAS is also one of the most cosmopolitan universities in the world with over 5,400 undergraduate and post graduate students from more than 130 countries studying at its London campus. SOAS is ranked eighth globally for the percentage of international students by the QS World University Rankings.
  • The LMEI at SOAS is a leading resource for the understanding of politics, economics, history and culture of the Middle East and North Africa and serves as the hub for a significant network of individuals and institutions with academic, commercial, diplomatic, media or other specialisations. It has a packed calendar of lectures, symposia and other activities, with notable recent events including an international symposium on the future of Yemen, a conference on higher education held simultaneously in London and Cairo, and an international conference on the contemporary art of the Middle East.

SOURCE MBI Al Jaber Foundation

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