Founded in May 1951, Amideast established itself within 10 eventful years as a respected, dynamic institution committed to encouraging constructive dialogue between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East. These seminal efforts defined its philosophical and programmatic direction: it would promote mutual understanding and cooperation through education, information, and development programs for the decades to come.
In its second decade, Amideast continued to advance opportunities for educational and cultural exchange through its growing in-region network, while human capacity development and technical training became a major focus of activity in a number of countries. Pursuing its mission of strengthening mutual understanding, it consolidated its work in the United States around international education activities and information services.
During the 1970s, the rapid growth of regional demand for an American education led Amideast to expand its advising services and introduce testing services, which would become a mainstay of country office services. As the oil boom spurred governments and businesses to dedicate increased resources to education and training, they increasingly turned to Amideast for assistance in upgrading their employees’ skills.
The 1980s saw further strengthening and diversification of Amideast’s technical assistance capabilities, accompanied by increasing interaction with regional and international development agencies. In the United States, Amideast renewed its emphasis on public outreach activities and information dissemination through an increase in informative print and multimedia publications about the region.
Demand for tailored short-term training programs soared in the 1990s, as Amideast became recognized as a global leader in education and training. Many field offices began to add English language and professional skills training to their offerings for the general public. Meanwhile, the response to Amideast’s programs and materials aimed at improving Americans’ understanding of the region was enthusiastic.
The occurrence of the 9/11 attacks at the outset of our sixth decade underscored the continuing relevance of our mission to advance mutual understanding and our support for international educational exchange. The region’s large youth demographic and the pressing need to create jobs and other opportunities, a goal that many of our partner organizations shared, led to innovative programs designed to meet the needs of youth and assist in building a competitive regional workforce for the 21st century.
Offering programs that empower the region’s youth and women took on new urgency following the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011 and the ensuing prolonged malaise across much of the region. Against overwhelming needs to be met, it was clear that we needed to prioritize our activities to further “hope, opportunity, and understanding.”
As our eighth decade began, the Covid-19 pandemic added urgency to our mandate to further “hope, opportunity, and understanding.” It also caused us to shift to the digital realm, laying the foundations for future online training and virtual exchange activities. In addition to becoming standard components of our programming, they opened up new possibilities for expanding access to our programs and services and reaching new audiences, particularly in underserved communities.