Skip to main content

Middle East and North Africa

The Open Society Foundations’ work in the Middle East and North Africa seeks to promote democratic governance and to protect human rights amid entrenched regional conflicts and political restrictions.


Amman, Jordan

The Amman office supports a diverse group of local civil society organizations, research centers, universities, and media organizations across Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Syria.

By the Numbers

$37.7M 2022 expenditures for Middle East and North Africa
2.9% Percentage of global expenditures
5.0% Average annual change in expenditures since 2016

Expenditures by Year

Explore our full expenditures by region

Our Work

Open Society–Middle East and North Africa works to defend human rights and promote democratic governance across the region.

Culture and Ideas

Person playing large drum in a room of people
An artist presents a sound-based performance at the non-profit arts space Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 14, 2022. © Photo courtesy Ashkal Alwan/Lara Saab

Open Society’s work has always been grounded in the free exchange of ideas—either in the world of policy, or in the world of art and culture. Across the Middle East and North Africa region, we support the development of institutions and think tanks that can incubate ideas for positive change. We also support independent cultural institutions that use art to ask questions and to challenge boundaries that may be otherwise tightly controlled.

Human Rights and Political Freedoms

We are among the numerous international supporters of human rights and law groups across the region that defend freedom of expression, challenge discrimination, and call for accountability for government abuses. Our efforts to push back against authoritarianism include supporting groups abroad that speak out for freedoms denied them in their home countries.

Digital Rights and Freedoms

A group of people on stage
Young debaters pose for a selfie on the set of a TV talk show produced by the Munathara Initiative in Tuni, Tunisia. Photo courtesy the Munathara Initiative

Online civic space remains constrained across much of the region by government censorship and surveillance, while flows of sometimes toxic disinformation are largely unchecked. In addition, there is a deficit of regional capacity to address pressing issues that will shape the region’s digital future. We are working to build regional capacity to strengthen the ability of independent groups to advocate for an internet protected from the excesses of state and corporate power.

International Justice

A small group of people speaking at an outdoor press conference
Lawyers give a press statement following the guilty verdict in the trial of a former Syrian intelligence officer for crimes against humanity in Koblenz, Germany, on January 13, 2022. © Bernd Lauter/AFP/Getty

We have worked closely with the Open Society Justice Initiative to support regional and national groups pushing for accountability for atrocity crimes in the region, including those committed in Syria and Yemen, as well as the ongoing work by the International Criminal Court prosecutor on situations in Iraq/United Kingdom, Libya, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Our History

The Open Society Foundations gave our first grants in the Middle East to groups in Israel and Palestine in 2002, as George Soros expanded his philanthropic efforts into the region. In 2006, our first regional office opened in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Three men seated outside of building
Men from a stateless community, who are barred from legal employment, sit in a salon in Kuwait on November 2, 2012. © Greg Constantine for the Open Society Foundations

Read more

Subscribe to updates about Open Society’s work around the world

By entering your email address and clicking “Submit,” you agree to receive updates from the Open Society Foundations about our work. To learn more about how we use and protect your personal data, please view our privacy policy.