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



Jul 6, 2022

There’s uncertainty in Israel and within the Palestinian Authority. The US’s stabilizing role is critical more than ever.

By Ksenia Svetlova

When China and Russia are keen to deepen their influence in the Middle East and American allies in the region are doubtful about the future, it is up to the United States to provide the stability and firmness that is lacking in today’s regional landscape.

Israel Middle East


Jun 24, 2022

The Israeli government collapse was a curveball for Biden’s upcoming visit. But it shows the depth of the US-Israel relationship.

By Daniel B. Shapiro

President Joe Biden’s team was thrown a curveball on June 20, as the year-old coalition built by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid finally gave way to internal pressures.

Israel Middle East


Jun 22, 2022

The immutable Muqtada al-Sadr loses a battle against Iran

By Andrew L. Peek

The June 12 decision by Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to renounce his electoral victory and collapse the government formation process is a gift to Iran.

Iran Iraq


Jun 21, 2022

This organization is helping Syria’s LGBTQI community. Here’s how.

By Jennifer Bailey and Francois Zankih

Guardians of Equality Movement and other organizations and groups like it are a promising indicator for renewable development.

Human Rights Middle East


Jun 16, 2022

Lebanon-Israel maritime border dispute picks up again

By Nicholas Blanford

The arrival of the UK-based Energean, which will begin a drilling operation close to a disputed maritime zone in the eastern Mediterranean, has sparked tensions once more between Israel and Lebanon.

Israel Lebanon

Event Recap

Jun 14, 2022

Promoting more women in leadership is “a business imperative” and key to unlocking economic prosperity, say top executives

By Allison Holle

On June 7, the Atlantic Council’s empowerME Initiative held a workshop on "Balance of power: Promoting more women in leadership."

Economy & Business Entrepreneurship


Jun 8, 2022

Trade trumps strategic competition in the Middle East

By Jonathan Fulton

Washington would do well to understand that many outside the US have a different view of China, and very few are interested in being a theater of strategic competition. 

China Economy & Business


May 31, 2022

Atlantic Council Names Dr. Racha Helwa Director of empowerME Initiative

By Atlantic Council

Senior economist deepens bench to advance the Atlantic Council’s work unlocking the economic and human potential of the Middle East.

Economy & Business Middle East

In the News

May 24, 2022

Slavin quoted in The New Arab on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is strengthening Iran’s influence in Syria

By Atlantic Council

Conflict Extremism

In the News

May 19, 2022

Katz quoted in Arab News on overlapping interests between Russia and authoritarian leaders in the Middle East

By Atlantic Council

Conflict Corruption