The Middle East Institute's signature annual event honors the region’s top visionaries, changemakers, cultural leaders, and philanthropists for their positive contributions to the political, economic, social and cultural landscape of the Middle East.

Attire is black tie/formal.

2019 Honorees


Issam M. Fares Award for Excellence

Nadine Labaki

Lebanese Actor and Director

Labaki is the first woman from the Arab world to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, for Capernaum (2018), a searing portrait of poverty and injustice. The messages in her visionary films are strengthened with direct action through the work of her Capernaum Association, which aims to improve the situation of the children and families in need who appeared in Capernaum.
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Middle East Institute Visionary Award

Othman & Leila Benjelloun

Co-chairs of the BMCE Bank Foundation

The Benjellouns are co-chairs of the BMCE Bank Foundation, which for nearly 30 years has been fighting illiteracy, poverty, and discrimination in rural villages across Morocco. Together they have created and financed more than 100 rural community schools throughout Morocco.

Master of Ceremonies

Steve Clemons

Editor-at-large of The Hill

A prominent journalist and foreign policy commentator, Clemons is Washington's editor-at-large for The Hill, DC's leading political media outlet. He also publishes the popular political blog, Washington Note.

73rd Annual Conference

Wednesday, November 13

The day after the Gala prominent Middle Eastern and American experts and foreign policy practitioners engaged in panel conversations covering the prevailing challenges facing the region and its partners.

More information coming soon.

About the Gala

Each year, MEI's Awards Gala provides a unique opportunity to bring hundreds of business, government, NGO, and thought leaders together for one night in celebration of outstanding individuals who are making a meaningful impact in the Middle East.

Learn more about MEI's signature event and past awardees by clicking below.

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