The launch of the MEI Art Gallery opens an exciting new chapter for the Middle East Institute.

Featuring contemporary art from a region that spans from Morocco to Afghanistan, the gallery celebrates the Middle East’s creativity and energy in a city that typically views the region through a security lens. By hosting a gallery within a think tank, the Middle East Institute recognizes the power of culture to challenge stereotypes, inform analysis, enhance learning, and bring diverse communities together around the universal language of the arts. 

We’re honored to launch the gallery with the show Arabicity | Ourouba, curated by Rose Issa. Ms. Issa has spent 30 years promoting Middle Eastern art from her base in London. “Arabicity” is her interpretation of the word ourouba, which translates roughly as “the state of being Arab.” In her show, Arab artists approach the region’s challenges with hope, ingenuity, and even humor, while articulating a multilayered visual history of the Arab world.
With a focus on thought-provoking exhibits like Arabicity | Ourouba, the MEI Art Gallery seeks to foster dialogue and deeper understanding of the Middle East in these polarized times. Each of the MEI Art Gallery’s four annual exhibits will be amplified by a rich program of curator talks, panel discussions, film screenings, and performances. Through its programming, the gallery will reach multiple audiences, including Washington’s arts and diaspora communities, students, and policymakers.  We’ll also be connecting with local communities by participating in city-wide art festivals and organizing arts workshops for DC public school students. 

We look forward to starting new conversations at the intersection of art and policy through shows like Issa’s Arabicity | Ourouba, and we appreciate your support as we embark on this exciting journey together. 

Kate Seelye
Vice President Arts and Culture    

Lyne Sneige
Director, Arts and Culture Center 

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