GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies is one of the leading institutes for Middle East research in Germany and Europe. Scholars examine topics such as state and regime structures, energy security, violent conflicts, forced migration, Islamist movements, and the reshaping of the regional order.

  • The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies is a leading institute in Germany and Europe for the study of political, economic, and social developments in the Middle East and North Africa. Scholars of GIGA’s Middle East Institute examine topics such as state and regime structures, energy security, violent conflicts, forced migration, Islamist movements, and the reshaping of the regional order. The Institute has developed context‐sensitive approaches based in Comparative Politics, Political Economy, and International Relations for assessing the region’s societies. The growing interaction between the MENA and its neighbouring regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South Asia is being investigated in research projects that are informed by the GIGA’s signature approach of Comparative Area Studies. Strong expertise in political hotspots of the area and their development potential (e.g. Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen) makes the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies a key resource for decision makers and leading media. Researchers of the Middle East Institute maintain deep ties in the region and collaborate closely with local partners. The Institute operates the GIGA Research Platform Middle East in Beirut and Tunis and is a core partner in the Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb at Tunis University. The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies engages prominently in associational life. It is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission (EuroMeSCo) and the advisory council of the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies. GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies researchers are also active members of the German Middle East Studies Association for Contemporary Research and Documentation (DAVO).


    Daniela Wald


    Research Platform Middle East

    Exchange and cooperation with scholars from around the world is a decades-long tradition at the GIGA. Since 2015 we have been intensifying and consolidating this cooperation with the help of the GIGA research platforms. 

    In the Middle East region, the GIGA currently operates one research platform Tunis and one in Beirut.

    Research Platforms

    Research Project | 01/02/2024 - 31/12/2025

    Digital Transformation Lab (DigiTraL), Phase II: Digitalisation as Chance for Cooperation with Global Partners

    GIGA‘s Digital Transformation Lab (DigiTraL), funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, analyses the political drivers and real-world consequences of the digital transformation taking place around the world. The Global South in particular is an important actor in and shaper of this transformation.
    FFO, 2024-2025

    Research Project | 01/01/2024 - 31/12/2025

    Climate Obstruction and Foreign Policy in Comparative Perspective

    The fight against climate change continues to be hindered by campaigns of corporate and other actors who seek to prevent global and/or national action on climate change. This research group is set up to a joint and comparative research agenda on climate obstruction in and across key Global South countries. The lead institutions are the GIGA and the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).
    DAAD/CAPES, 2024-2026

    Research Project | 01/04/2023 - 31/03/2029

    Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM): Imagining Futures - Dealing with Disparity, Phase II

    The Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM) based in Tunis is the first and only Institute for Advanced Studies in North Africa. MECAM’s ambition is to become an intellectual hub that contributes to the emergence of cutting-edge, internationally relevant and visible research in the humanities and social sciences on, from and in the Maghreb and in particular with scholars from the Maghreb. The GIGA coordinates MECAM's publications as well as outreach and transfer activities.
    BMBF, 2023-2029

    Research Project | 01/09/2022 - 31/08/2023

    Legal Identity Under Insurgencies and Unrecognised States

    Legal identity is a target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s and it underpins the SDGs at large. Not having a recognized legal identity can severely implicate people’s human rights and it may cause statelessness. Our project goes to the core of unresolved tensions around theorising sovereign statehood and the authority to make law.
    Swedish Research Council, 2022-2023

    Dr. Bart Klem

    University of Melbourne

    Research Project | 01/03/2022 - 28/02/2025

    Explaining Middle-Power Engagement in External Regions: A Comparison of Iranian, Saudi, and Turkish Sub-Saharan Africa Policies

    By means of a comparative historical analysis of Iranian, Saudi-Arabian, and Turkish engagement in Africa following the continent’s decolonization processes and running up until 2020, this project seeks to make sense of middle-power engagement in external regions. First, the project will identify the periods of shifting IST engagement in Africa. Second, it will analyze the reasons why, and the conditions under which, IST have stepped up—or reduced—their foreign policy efforts in Africa. Third, it will develop mid-range generalizations on middle-power engagement in external regions.
    DFG, 2022-2025

    Research Project | 15/01/2022 - 14/12/2024

    COVID-19 and Executive Personalization in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the MENA Region

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, political leaders reacted by containment measures that, next to combating the spread of the pandemic, also presented a window of opportunity to bolster executives’ personal grasp on power. Personalization of power has been particularly worrying in the Global South where constraints on the chief executives were often already weak prior to the pandemic. This project assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the personalization of executive power in 36 countries of the Global South.
    DFG, 2021-2024

    Research Project | 01/12/2021 - 30/11/2024

    Migration and Im/Mobility in the Global South during a Pandemic (DFG Network)

    The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led to novel experiences of isolation, mobility restriction and exclusion. Mobile populations are particularly affected when borders are closed and migrants are turned away, commuters are denied border crossings, resettlements are suspended or unlawful deportations are justified by pandemic-related risks. This network brings together twenty migration researchers to collect data, build theory, and gain new knowledge about the impact of the pandemic on the Global South.
    DFG, 2021-2024

    Dr. Antje Missbach

    Judith Altrogge

    Jun.-Prof. Dr. Soledad Alvarez Velasco

    Dr. Sabine Mohamed

    Dr. Tabea Scharrer

    Dr. Gerhild Perl

    Dr. Dora Sampaio

    Dr. Victoria Kumala Sakti

    Dr. Megha Amrith

    Dr. Wayne Palmer

    Yaatsil Guevara

    Dr. Magdalena Suerbaum

    Dr. Monika Palmberger

    Dilshad Muhammad

    Dr. Franzisca Zanker

    Prof. Dr. Jelena Tosic

    Maria Lassak

    Dr. Katja Girr

    Prof. Dr. Magnus Treiber

    Research Project | 01/06/2021 - 30/11/2021

    A Different Kind of Refugee: A Case Study of the Emirates’ Syrian Migrants Seeking Citizenship in Europe

    In the absence of access to citizenship rights and permanent residencies in the Gulf States, Syrian migrants of the Gulf are increasingly seeking alternative permanencies elsewhere. Through an ethnography in Berlin and Hamburg, this project aims to explore how Syrians, born and raised in the UAE, navigate the ‘asylum seeking route’ to Western Europe, taking into consideration the situation in Syria and its effects upon their relationship to citizenship and future plans, within the Gulf and Europe. AvH, 2021

    Dr. İdil Akıncı

    Former Visiting Fellow




    DAVO: German Middle East Studies Association for Contemporary Research and Documentation

    • DAVO is the leading association of Middle East scholars in Germany.

    • DAVO advocates a relevant, contemporary and interdisciplinary approach to Middle East scholarship.

    • Each year, DAVO holds an annual international convention, for which the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies often organises panels.

    • The Middle East Studies Institute assists in the publication of DAVO white papers.

    EuroMeSCo: Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission

    • Members of the EuroMeSCo network come from 33 of the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). EuroMeSCo unites the most salient research institutions working on relations between Europe and North Africa/the Middle East. Currently, 99 research institutions are integrated into EuroMeSCo.

    • EuroMeSCo’s research activities are oriented towards foreign policy and security policy and work to achieve the goals of the UfM.

    • Depending on the topic, the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies participates in the development of EuroMeSCo’s annual research agenda.

    Cooperation Agreements

    Through the signing of cooperation agreements, the Middle East Studies Institute has been able to expand its collaboration with leading research institutes and lay the groundwork for formal cooperations in research and knowledge transfer. Collaborations were agreed upon with the following institutions:

    • Lebanese American University, Beirut, Libanon (LAU)

    • Observatoire Tunisien de la Transition Démocratique, Tunis (OTTD)

    • Rabat Social Studies Institute, Rabat/Marokko (RSSI)

    Cooperation Partners

    Furthermore, in the context of specific research projects, the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies works closely with other European, North African and Middle Eastern contracted partners, including:

    The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies also provides a temporary home base to various visiting scholars.

    President (ad interim)

    Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach is President (ad interim) of the GIGA.

    Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach

    Regional Institutes

    Africa|Asia|Latin America|Middle East


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