In 1961 the Orient- Institut was established in Beirut by the German Oriental Society (DMG). The Institute is funded by the German Federal Government (Ministry of Education and Research). Additional funds have been provided by the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation, the Volkswagen-Foundation and other institutions supporting scientific research. Since 1964 the Orient -Institut is located in a villa in the traditional quarter of Zokak el-Blat, close to the city center of Beirut. After establishing itself as a part of the academic and intellectual life in the vibrant metropolis of Beirut in the sixties and seventies research at the institute was threatened by the Lebanese Civil War. Luckily the Institute did not suffer any major material damage, however, the scientific staff did eventually have to leave Beirut for Istanbul in 1987.
In Turkey the Institute continued its work on Arabic and Islamic Studies and established a new focus: Turkish, Ottoman and Central Asian studies.
In August 1994 the Institute again resumed its full range of activities in Beirut. Since that time the Istanbul branch operates as a center for Turkish and Ottoman studies. Both branches serve as a forum for scholars from abroad to meet their locally based colleagues. The Institutes pursue the following objectives:
- to carry out research and documentation work
- to offer a forum for dialogue, co-operation and academic exchange between scholars and scholarly institutions
- to promote research projects and conferences on the Middle East
- to publish critical editions of classical texts as well as several series of academic studies
- to supply guest researchers with working facilities
- to provide scholars with scientific material from archives and special libraries
- to maintain a specialised research library for Oriental Studies
Scholarly work on the region has changed significantly both in terms of contents and methods over the last twenty years. Apart from its traditional philological and historical perspectives, scientific approaches to the region have come to rely on neighbouring disciplines such as social anthropology, political and social sciences, linguistics etc. These changes are reflected in the Orient- Institut's work.
The main fields of research of both branches are:
- culture, past and present of Near Eastern societies
- research on Near and Middle Eastern and Central Asian languages and literatures
- orality and scripturalism in Islam,
- problems of urbanization in the Middle East,
- religions in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Orient- Institut is part of the "Stiftung Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland" ("Foundation German Humanities Institutes Abroad" which was established in 2002.
Rue Hussein Beyhum
P.O.B. 11-2988 11072120 Riad El Solh
Beirut - Lebanon