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.

Featured commentary & analysis

Featured in-depth research & reports



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



Nov 14, 2022

How a former al-Qaeda affiliate became an existential threat and a wake-up call for the Syrian opposition

By Ömer Özkizilcik

The entry and forced withdrawal of Afrin city by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) shook local dynamics and may ultimately serve as a wake-up call for the Syrian opposition.

Middle East Politics & Diplomacy


Nov 1, 2022

The startup industry is struggling. Here’s how founders can navigate the current funding environment.

By Mahmood Abdulla

Founders who can adapt to the current economic climate and survive long periods without their equivalent of food and water—VC funding—will be able to weather the current uncertainty.

Economy & Business Resilience & Society

AC Selects

Oct 17, 2022

AC Selects: Addressing Jordan and Egypt’s economic challenges and China’s unprecedented third term presidency

Last week, Jordan’s Minister of Finance, Mohamad Al-Ississ and Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hala H. Elsaid sat down with the EmpowerME initiative to discuss challenges and potential areas of growth for their economic and financial sectors. The GeoEconomics Center and Global China hub hosted two panels of experts to examine the 20th […]

China Economy & Business


Oct 17, 2022

Italy recently elected a far-right leader. Here’s how the Arab world reacted to the news.

By Karim Mezran, Nour Dabboussi

Giorgia Meloni’s government should carefully consider how it handles its nationalistic discourse to avoid any Islamophobic controversies that could ultimately spark a blowback of condemnations from its allies in the Arab world.

Europe & Eurasia Italy

empowerME Conversations

Oct 11, 2022

Economies in Transition: Middle East

By Atlantic Council

In Season 3, Episode 4 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Chairman Amjad Ahmad speaks with International Monetary Fund's Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department Jihad Azour and guest co-host Atlantic Council's empowerME Director Racha Helwa to discuss the economy and market opportunities of the MENA region, women and youth empowerment, and the development of differing entrepreneurial ecosystems within the region.

Economy & Business Middle East

empowerME Conversations

Oct 4, 2022

Economies in Transition: Jordan

By Atlantic Council

In Season 3, Episode 3 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Chairman Amjad Ahmad speaks with Jordan's Minister of Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship H.E. Ahmad Al-Hanandeh and guest co-host BeyondCapital Managing Director Tamer Al-Salah to discuss Jordan’s current economic situation, the pivotal role investors play in growing their entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the increasing involvement of women in the Jordanian economy.

Economy & Business Middle East

Event Recap

Oct 3, 2022

New laws in Saudi Arabia support women in business, and society is catching up quickly

By Amira Attia

On September 28, the Atlantic Council’s empowerME initiative held a discussion on regulations and laws that impact women in business in Saudi Arabia.

Economy & Business Financial Regulation

empowerME Conversations

Sep 27, 2022

Economies in Transition: Egypt

By Atlantic Council

In Season 3, Episode 2 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Chairman Amjad Ahmad speaks with Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Rania Al-Mashat and guest co-host UPS President of International Public Affairs and Sustainability Penelope Naas to discuss Egypt hosting COP 27, increasing women in leadership positions, promoting inclusivity in the economy, energy transitions, and the continued development of Egypt’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Economy & Business Middle East


Sep 26, 2022

Amman-Baghdad-Cairo (ABC) Agreement: A new path for economic integration

By Racha Helwa, Barik Schuber, and Ibrahim Saif

Since 2019, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan have held multiple summit meetings to discuss trilateral agreements to formalize and deepen economic integration. By cooperating among themselves, the three countries can represent a united political and economic front. This report explores the potential benefits and pitfalls to avoid from the perspective of each country: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq.

Economy & Business Inclusive Growth


Sep 22, 2022

Egypt is hosting COP27. What are the expectations?

By Lama El Hatow

As the host country for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Egypt has a huge role to play during its presidency of the event, as all eyes will be geared towards how the country can lead by example.

Energy & Environment Middle East