Kuwait gives GW $4.5 million gift for Middle East studies

The government of Kuwait gave GW a $4.5 million endowment to support GW’s Institute for Middle East Studies and create a Middle East and North Africa Research Center.

The endowment is the latest in a long-standing relationship between the country and GW, which has also received $1 million in 2008 and $3.4 million in 2005 from Kuwait.

The new center will be part of the Global Resource Center at Gelman Library, Cathy Zeljak, the center’s director, said.

“The Middle East and North Africa Research Center will be a specialized research center, with both English and Arabic language content. It will be a resource for students and faculty who are conducting research or want to know more about the Middle East,” Zeljak said.

Zeljak said the center hopes to use a part of the endowment to hire a Middle East specialist to work with students and faculty on research and to highlight Middle East culture, history, politics and contemporary issues.

The University’s relationship with Kuwait began because of Ambassador Edward Gnehm, Kuwait Professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Affairs and director of the Middle East Policy Forum.

Gnehm served as the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait from 1991 to 1994.

“One of the things that I really wanted to do was to contribute my years of knowledge and experience in the region for students,” Gnehm said. “When we created the Institute for Middle East Studies in 2007, I wanted very much to try to do everything that I could do to make it an institute that would have the kind of endowment, the kind of financial support to be able to be the best around and that is what we are trying to do.”

Gnehm said he is pleased the University is so involved internationally.

Gnehm added that GW has a good reputation in the Middle East in general and creating the new center will only improve it.

“The University should be proud about the way it does have such great projection internationally.”

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