The Middle East Directions Programme



Turbulent changes in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) are profoundly impacting its peoples and causing repercussions for Europe. On-going transformations need a new research focus as well as new paradigms to analyse the region and to guide policy-making.

In 2016, the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) at the European University Institute (EUI) established the Middle East Directions (MEDirections) Programme. MEDirections is a continuation of the Mediterranean Programme, which positioned the EUI at the forefront of the Euro-Mediterranean research dialogue between 1999 and 2013. It has the ambition to become an international reference point for research on the Middle East and North Africa Region, studying socio-political, economic and religious trends and transformations.


MEDirections promotes multidisciplinary research based on fieldwork findings and collaboration with researchers from the region. Its pillars are:

  • Analysis based on empirical research conducted in the field;
  • A multi-disciplinary approach focused on studying key, intertwined dynamics;

A medium to long-term perspective that aims to identify trends, as opposed to the short-term policy agendas that are characteristic of think-tanks and other non-academic institutes.Its objectives are:

  • To produce high-quality academic research on the Middle East region, that can be of use to policy-makers and practitioners;
  • To create a forum for researchers within Europe and the Middle East to share analytical perspectives and broaden research networks, and to integrate these researchers into contemporary policy debates;
  • To organise, co-ordinate and facilitate the EUI’s research output on the MENA region, and to develop synergies with other world-leading research centres located within the EUI.

MEDirections research activities currently focus on:

  • The social, political, economic and religious transformations that are taking place at the transnational, national and local levels;
  • The disorders and conflicts, following the breakdown of the pre-Arab Spring regional order, with new actors emerging, and regional and international powers being drawn into confrontation;
  • The economic, human ideas and information flows from both within and beyond the region. MEDirections aims to understand the impact of these dynamics on social and political structures, as well as on intra and extra-regional flows.

MEDirections seeks the active involvement of donors and partner institutions, academic experts and associate researchers to consolidate the relevance of the programme and to maximise the impact of its outputs. The programme benefits from the expertise of researchers speaking the main languages of the region and mainly, standard and colloquial Arabic, Malay, Persian and Tajiki Persian, Russian and Turk.