Dear UCI students, colleagues and community,

The faculty and staff of the Global Middle East Studies program couldn't be more happy to welcome everyone back to campus. It is been a very difficult 18 months not just for the UCI community but for the country, the Middle East and the world at large. Many of us have suffered personal and professional losses because of the covid-19 pandemic, and apart from the wealthy Gulf countries and Israel the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and the Muslim world more broadly, remain among the world's least vaccinated societies.

Despite such problems, life across the region continues as it does everywhere and our faculty has continued to do research and where feasible visit our countries of specialization, research and in many cases home, bringing back invaluable understandings of the contemporary dynamics of societies in the midst of unprecedented public health, social, political and economic challenges. We have put this knowledge to good use in our revamped core core sequence, first unveiled last year, which focuses on themes such as race, public health and refugees in a manner that brings the struggles and challenges we are facing today in the United States as well as across the region into sharp relief.

We are also working to re-establish our EAP programs across the region so that interested students can, as the situation normalizes for travel, spend at least one quarter of their studies in a country of the region. We continue to believe that now more than ever it is vital for our students to have both a basic level of language competence and experience visiting the region before they leave UCI either for graduate school or the working world.

Finally, we hope to bring as much cultural content to the campus as possible this year, including well known writers, filmmakers, musicians and others who can share their stories about the Middle East in a global context that are far more tangible and palpable then even the most well written and inspiring book. As always, we look forward to working with students to develop the major and the program further, to welcome new students and faculty to our program, And to add new course content in order to better serve our students many needs and interests.

For those of you who are interested in more information about the program, please contact me at mlevine@uci.edu and I will be happy to discuss its many possibilities and opportunities for both students and colleagues.

I look forward to meeting all of you as the year progresses and wish everyone again a healthy and productive academic year.

Sincerely,
Mark LeVine
Director GMES