About the center

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East examines the barriers preventing many people in the region from reaching their fullest potential. Our work also highlights success stories of individuals and institutions who overcame significant challenges in pursuit of social, economic, and political progress. Inspired by these examples, we delineate practical and implementable policy recommendations that policymakers in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East can implement to unleash the region’s economic and human potential.



We convene the most important stakeholders on issues of primary concern to the transatlantic community when it comes the Middle East and North Africa, from senior US and Middle East government officials to civil society activists and budding entrepreneurs.

Past events

Thu, Apr 29, 2021

From the courts to the streets: Iranian women changemakers on the struggle for equality

Online Event The Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative hosts a discussion surrounding the upcoming paper, Iranian Women in the Year 1400: The Struggle for Equal Rights Continues.

12:00pm Iran Middle East Resilience Resilience & Society

Mon, Mar 22, 2021

Iraqi diaspora mobilization and the future development of Iraq

Online Event A discussion surrounding the upcoming paper, Iraqi Diaspora Mobilization and the Future Development of Iraq, which explores Iraqi diaspora mobilization before and after the 2003 invasion and fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

10:00am Economy & Business Iraq Politics & Diplomacy Resilience & Society

Fri, Mar 12, 2021

A briefing on Yemen’s humanitarian crisis

Online Event Tim Lenderking, US Special Envoy for Yemen, and Sarah Charles, Assistant to the Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, discuss the US policy response to conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

9:15am Conflict Middle East Yemen


Thu, Jul 22, 2021

Will Russian forces really leave Libya?

The Libyan conflict resolution process could break down altogether, in which case neither the Russians nor any other outside party now supporting one side or the other in Libya is likely to end its involvement there.

MENASource by Mark N. Katz

Libya Middle East

Mon, Jul 19, 2021

Women in Venture Capital: “We don’t need to fix women—we need to fix the system,” says Middle East investment executive

On July 14, 2021 the Atlantic Council’s empowerME Initiative held a workshop featuring a keynote fireside chat with Lazard Gulf Limited CEO Farah Foustok. Read the key takeaways.

MENASource by Stefanie H. Ali

Economy & Business Middle East

Thu, Jul 15, 2021

Second Berlin Conference on Libya: Where to from here?

Libya’s political system prior to the elections is preferred but not imperative. What is essential is giving the Libyans a strong voice on the outcome of their political system.

MENASource by Karim Mezran and Hafed Al-Ghwell

Libya Middle East

Tue, Jul 13, 2021

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: What does its closure mean for Lebanon?

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is set to cease operations at the end of July due to lack of funds as Beirut sinks deeper into economic and political crisis. Atlantic Council experts react to what the closure means for Lebanon.

MENASource by Nicholas Blanford, David Daoud, Gissou Nia, Reem Salahi

Lebanon Middle East

Tue, Jun 29, 2021

Saudi Gazette covered empowerME’s Igniting Women’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Saudi Arabia workshop

In the News by Atlantic Council

Economy & Business Entrepreneurship

Mon, Jun 28, 2021

Princess Reema tells Saudi women entrepreneurs to dream big

On June 23, 2021 the Atlantic Council’s empowerME Initiative held a workshop featuring a keynote fireside chat with Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Her Royal Highness Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, which was moderated by US Embassy Riyadh Chargé D’Affaires Martina Strong, and a panel discussion with Endeavor Saudi Arabia Managing Director Lateefa Alwaalan, 500 Startups MENA Partner Amal Dokhan, S&P Global Chief Public & Government Affairs Officer Courtney Geduldig, and UPS Vice President for Community Relations Esther Ndichu, which was moderated by empowerME Director and Resident Senior Fellow Amjad Ahmad.

MENASource by Stefanie H. Ali

Economy & Business Entrepreneurship

Mon, Jun 14, 2021

Qaddour joins The Good, The Rights and The Ugly to discuss how Middle East elections will impact the region

In the News by Atlantic Council

Elections Middle East

Mon, Jun 14, 2021

What choices remain for the United States in Syria?

In a new issue brief Nate Rosenblatt and Jomana Qaddour describe the challenges the United States faces in Syria, including Russia's attempt to expand the UN Strategic Framework as well the struggle to keep the UN humanitarian border crossings open in northern Syria.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Nate Rosenblatt and Jomana Qaddour

Human Rights International Organizations

Fri, Jun 4, 2021

Syrian lives in peril: The fight to preserve Syria’s last humanitarian border crossing

A new Atlantic Council report, “Syrian Lives in Peril: The Fight to Preserve Syria’s Last Humanitarian Border Crossing,” places humanitarian considerations at the forefront of the cross-border debate. In addition to examining the devastating impacts of losing Bab al-Hawa, this report explores the limitations of cross-line operations (from government-held areas of Syria to areas outside of its control), which are presented as feasible alternatives.

Issue Brief by Salman Husain, Yasmine Chawaf

Middle East Migration

Wed, May 26, 2021

Qaddour joins CNN to discuss Syrian elections

In the News by Atlantic Council

Elections Middle East