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Middle East & Islamic Studies: Getting Started

New Report

Freedom House

Freedom on the Net 2012


Press Freedom in 2011: Breakthroughs and Pushback in the Middle East
(released April 2012)

The Middle East and North Africa saw dramatic if precarious gains in press freedom in 2011, and for the first time in eight years, global media freedom did not experience an overall decline, according to a Freedom House report released today. However, due to downgrades in some previously free countries, the percentage of the world’s population living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade.

Geographical differences in living standards are a pressing concern for policymakers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Economies of agglomeration mean that production is most efficient when concentrated in leading areas. So how can the region reduce spatial disparities in well-being without compromising growth? The solution to spatial disparities lies in matching the policy package to a lagging area’s specific characteristics. Key questions include: is the lagging area problem really as serious as one thinks; is it a problem of low economic opportunity or of poor human development; are lagging area populations close enough to agglomerations to benefit from spillovers; and is there manifest private investor interest?

A decade following September 11, 2001, Muslim Americans still face some public distrust and are more skeptical of law enforcement than are other U.S. faith communities. Despite these challenges, American followers of Islam are optimistic about their future, and they embrace their country's civic institutions and religious pluralism.

Muslim and Western publics continue to see relations between them as generally bad, with both sides holding negative stereotypes of the other. Many in the West see Muslims as fanatical and violent, while few say Muslims are tolerant or respectful of women. Meanwhile, Muslims in the Middle East and Asia generally see Westerners as selfish, immoral and greedy – as well as violent and fanatical.

New: ONI Report

New Report:
Pro-Government Hackers


OpenNet Initiative (ONI)
Middle East & North Africa

OpenNet Initiative’s mission is to identify and document Internet filtering and surveillance, and to promote and inform wider public dialogs about such practices.Their latest report examines these practices in Middle Eastern and North African contexts. Click on the link below to see the report.


The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) is a collaborative partnership of four leading academic institutions: the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto; Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme, University of Cambridge; and the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University.

New Report

U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project in affiliation with the Search for Common Ground (SFCG) organization released a report entitled: "Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World."

The report "represents the consensus of an exceptionally diverse, senior, bipartisan and inter-faith group of 34 American leaders who have worked together over the last 18 months. Their work was supported by Search for Common Ground and CBI, two organizations that specialize in building consensus on controversial public issues."

Key Online Reference Works

Suq, Damascus, Syria

Note: For help with off-Campus access to databases, please see here.

Key Online Databases


Find Articles in:

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Find Images in:Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem


Note: For help with off-Campus access to databases, please see here.

Online Resources



AMEEL (Yale)
AMEEL is a Web-based portal and a digital collection of information for the study of the Middle East, including its history, culture, development, and contemporary face. Within this portal, Yale University Library offers the OACIS serials database and integrates existing scholarly digital content with newly digitized resources to make such materialS easier to find and use efficiently and freely.
Farabi Digital Library
From IRCICA, Farabi includes several collections such as: Ottoman Yearbooks, Voyages in Middle East, Korans, and much more.
Iraqi Jewish Archive
Over 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents were discovered in the flooded basement of the Iraqi intelligence headquarters by a US Army team. The remarkable survival of this written record of Iraqi Jewish life provides an unexpected opportunity to better understand this 2,500-year-old Jewish community. Ceated by NARA and partners.
Universität Halle-Wittenberg: Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek (ULB): Sondersammelgebiet Vorderer Orient
The digitization project is still ongoing, but is already a most valuable resource, with over 3000 titles available. They started with the holdings of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in Halle, which includes much 19th-century material, both European publications and Middle Eastern ones. At Halle they have also digitized Jacob Landau's important Turkish research library which contains many Ottoman publications.
Islamic Heritage Project - Harvard University
Contains not only important MSS, but also a nearly equal number of printed texts (over 275). These date almost entirely from before 1923 and cover a wide range of subjects, languages and places of publication.
Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn: Bibliothek Goussen
This is a specialized collection of Oriental Christian texts, including 226 in Arabic. It comprises both European and Middle Eastern editions, most of them fully digitized and available online. This is a valuable resource, in view of the important part played by Christian Arabic books, produced both by missionaries and by Arab Christians, in the early development of Arabic printing.
المكتبة الرقمية المغربية - La Bibliothèque Numérique Marocaine
The Moroccan Digital Library, created by the Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc (BNRM), has a special section devoted to lithographed books, containing digital images of over 30 of them. Almost all printing in Morocco was lithographic until well into the 20C, so these are of particular historic importance. Users can choose between Arabic and French interfaces.
Milli Kütüphane: Süreli Yayınlar Bilgi Sistemi
This database of Ottoman newspapers and periodicals is maintained by the Turkish National Library in Ankara. It contains full-text images of a wide range of serials from 1840 (Ceride-i Havadis) to 1928.
İslam Araştimaları Merkezi
The Islamic Studies Centre in Üsküdar offers three online collections of Ottoman printed materials in facsimile images:1) Salnâmeler: the official yearbooks, important sources of statistical and other information on all the Ottoman provinces. Over 520 are available here; 2) Osmanlıca Risaleler: over 2400 pamphlets or “treatises” in Ottoman Turkish, mainly on political, religious and educational subjects; 3) Osmanlıca Makaleler: articles from 20 Ottoman Turkish periodicals. The facsimiles are provided as PDF files.
Duke University Libraries: Ottoman Texts on IA
Duke offers a collection of 213 Ottoman Turkish books on the Internet Archive platform. These include not only classical literature but also works of popular fiction, religion, and law.
World Digital Library: Middle East & North Africa
Expand the 'Place' filter list on the left-hand side to select items by country.


This catalogue provides a searchable interface to basic manuscript descriptions from some of the major manuscript collections in the UK. With the continuing contribution of manuscript records from UK libraries, Fihrist aims to become a union catalogue for manuscripts in Arabic script. Currently, only a portion of the records contain Arabic script elements.
The Dayan Center Bibliographical Database
Since 1979, the Library of the Moshe Dayan Center has electronically cataloged articles, pamphlets and occasional publications on the Middle East published in English, French, and Arabic. The catalog now consists of over 300,000 entries.
Moshe Dayan Center (Tel Aviv U.) - Arabic Press Archive Catalog
The Arabic Press Archive of the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel-Aviv University is one of the largest and the most comprehensive collections of modern and contemporary Arabic-language newspapers in the world. It continues to expand, in both digital and hard copy form.
National Library of Tunisia: Catalog ‪فهرس المكتبة
Catalog of the National Library of Tunisia, this includes old Tunisian newspapers & other periodicals. Digitized documents may be available. In French and Arabic.

Librarian for Middle East & Islamic Studies

Open Access Resources


is a blog which gathers and distributes information on materials relating to the Middle East housed in open access repositories (OAR) around the world.

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Noteworthy Sites

Arab Knowledge Reports (UNDP)

Digital Islam

Research on Middle East, Islam and digital media. is an active network of researchers and scholars who conduct comparative research on Islam and Muslims in the West and disseminate key information to politicians, media, and the public. Sponsored by GSRL Paris/CNRS France and Harvard University, the Euro-Islam research network consists of over forty researchers and hosts over 50,000 unique visitors each month. The site is recognized in political and media circles as the most reliable online reference for Islam in Europe. Bibliography


League of Arab States

League of Arab States logo

League of  Arab States
جامعة الدول العربية

The Arab League or League of the Arab States is a regional intergovernmental organization of Arab States in the Middle East and North Africa formed in Cairo on March 22, 1945. Seven states formed the League, defining its main goals as to: "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries."

To find materials in Duke's Libraries about the Arab League, click here.