History

The Arab British Centre was founded in 1977. Compelled by poor media representation and apparent widespread ignorance of the Arab world, the centre was established by a collective of British organisations with generous financial support from H. H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan El Nahyan.

The Arab British Centre was inaugurated on 13 July 1977, by Mahmoud Riad, the Secretary General of the Arab League, and David Owen, the British Foreign Secretary.

Mahmoud_Riad_OpeningOne of the difficulties [both Britain and the Arab world face]…is the burden of the historical experience in Anglo-Arab relations, and the resulting formation of the image which we hold of one another. While it is not helpful at this stage to analyse the causes of the development of this image, it would be useful to try to change it, and set the basis for promoting in the minds of each one of us a wholesome image of the other party. Without the realisation of this wholesome image, the road to co-operation and understanding will not be smooth and easy, and solving other difficulties will be more complicated.  It is in this very area that the Arab-British Centre which we are inaugurating today can play an exceedingly important role.

The Arab world today is passing through an exceedingly critical stage regarding the achievement of peace in the Middle East. The continuous threat to peace in this sensitive area has serious repercussions on world peace.  It also directly affects Europe in matters of economy and security.  A sound understanding of our problems will help Europe to play an effective role in the realisation of the peace that we all seek’.

Inaugural speech by Mahmoud Riad, General Secretary of The Arab League. 21 Colingham Road, 13 July 1977.

Over the past 40 years The Arab British Centre has supported more than thirty resident organisations by providing subsidised workspace. Today, resident and associate resident organisations continue to have the opportunity to grow and develop their work alongside like-minded individuals and The Arab British Centre has expanded its work in culture and arts, whilst staying true to its founding mission to promote understanding of the Arab world and disseminate Arab culture in the United Kingdom.