Washington, DC is host to numerous museums and cultural institutions – but none that feature the culture, development, economics, history, and societies of Arab countries. Neither is there a major center in the heart of the national capital that showcases the extraordinary range of Arab contributions to science and technology – indeed, to the word’s civilizations and to humankind in general. An Arab Cultural Institute will do justice to these topics, to Arabs, and to America’s relationship with this vitally important part of the world.
- The Arab Cultural Institute will have permanent and temporary exhibits on Arab countries’ culture and distinctive characteristics in addition to administering high quality educational programs together with special events and activities;
- In addition to its permanent, rotating, and special exhibitions, the Institute will feature space for the national day commemoration and events year-round for each of the 22 Arab countries. There will also be a conference hall, an auditorium, a library with research facilities, and meeting rooms for seminars, lectures, poetry readings, film screenings, book signings, and concerts;
- The Institute will offer visitors a bookstore/gift shop, a café and/or restaurant, a prayer room, and world-class museum items showcasing Arab historical monuments, archeological treasures, literary masterpieces, and examples of the innumerable, extraordinary, and myriad impacts that Arabs have had on humanity’s endless quest for modernization and development as well as the relations of Arabs with other world regions and cultures, and vice versa;
- The Institute will be in a prime location in the center of Washington within walking distance of the National Mall as well as the White House and easily accessible to the Metro and other public transportation;
- A management team comprised of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, in association with the League of Arab States’ office in the United States and cultural attachés from the various Arab embassies, is working with American and Arab business and diplomatic leaders as well as the world’s foremost museum designers, engineers, and architects to plan and administer the Institute.
Benefits to Arabs
- The Arab Cultural Institute will do much to correct the many false images of Arabs among key groups in the United States by addressing widespread myths and stereotypes;
- The Institute is sure to be visited by most Members of Congress, their principal staff, and large numbers of senior and mid-level representatives of the U.S. Executive Branch;
- The Institute will serve as a forum for representatives from the media, think tanks, lobbies, professional associations, and other institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It will provide cultural and educational services for universities and history, geography, and social studies teachers as well as their students not only in the District of Columbia area, but also for the thousands of collegiate youth that visit the nation’s capital year-round in addition to significant numbers among many of the city’s annual 20 million tourists;
- The Institute will be an important tool to heighten Americans’ interest in and appreciation of Arab culture, Arab civilization, and the Arabic language, thereby providing current and future leaders a more educated and accurate portrayal of Arabs and the position and role of Arab countries and their peoples in regional and world affairs;
- The opportunities for the Arab Cultural Institute to aid pan-Arab cooperation and American-Arab engagement are limited only by the imagination.
The appeal of an Arab Cultural Institute in the nation’s capital to large numbers of Americans and visitors to Washington from every country is obvious. Also obvious is that the Institute’s contents and programming will enhance American knowledge and understanding of Arab and Islamic culture and the world’s indebtedness to the manifold contributions to the betterment of humanity that countless numbers of Arabs have made.
Of monumental significance is that the Arab Cultural Institute’s contributions are going to occur in the center of the world’s most technologically advanced, economically wealthiest, financially influential, and militarily powerful country.
The Institute will foster international education cooperation, tolerance, and respect for other peoples and their cultures. And it will demonstrate the belief in and commitment to increasing and ever-strengthening American-Arab ties across a broad range of mutual endeavors.
With the launching of the Institute, the United States and the Arab peoples will be celebrating the onset of a new chapter in their relations.