Dr. Paul Salem has been named president of the Middle East Institute (MEI). The announcement was made by MEI’s Board of Governors at its meeting on Monday, October 15. He succeeds Amb. (ret.) Wendy Chamberlin, who stepped down in July 2018 after serving nearly twelve years as president.
“The Board of Governors was enthusiastic in its unanimous choice of Paul Salem to direct MEI as it prepares to open its new headquarters in 2019,” said Richard A. Clarke, chairman of MEI’s Board of Governors and head of the presidential search committee. “Paul is one of the world’s leading scholars on the Middle East and is highly respected in the United States and the region. We are delighted he will lead the Institute forward.”
Since joining MEI as vice president in 2013, Salem led the growth of the Institute’s policy research and programs, elevating its influence in the policy community. He recruited both prominent and rising scholars in the field of Middle East studies, including important new voices from the region. He has also been the face and voice of the Institute in public events and roundtables, as well as MEI’s weekly podcast and videos in English and Arabic. Earlier this year he was named senior vice president.
“I am honored and excited to accept this challenge. I look forward to working with the Board and MEI’s excellent leadership and team to make our institute a more impactful and valuable resource in every way. The tasks facing our institute are especially pressing as the Middle East region is passing through one of the most acute periods of instability in its modern history and US-Middle Eastern relations are in profound flux.”
Salem’s research has focused on issues of political change, transition, and conflict as well as the regional and international relations of the Middle East, with particular emphasis on the countries of the Levant and Egypt. He is the author and editor of a number of books and reports.
Prior to joining MEI, Salem served as the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon. Previously he served as general director of the Fares Foundation, and from 1989 to 1999 he taught at the American University of Beirut and founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. Salem holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D from Harvard University.