The collection was founded with the aim of covering various aspects of the study of the modern Middle East. The subjects included are politics, economics, modern history and development which were never covered consistently by the Faculty Library collection (which is predominantly based on classical and cultural studies). The collection contains publications in Arabic, Persian and Turkish as well as in English and European languages. It covers all countries of the Middle East and Islamic North Africa.
History and development
The collection was set up by Professor Arthur Arberry in 1960, originally in rooms in Pembroke College, with the aim of stimulating interest in the subject of the Middle East in general and in its modern aspects in particular. Financial support was initially provided by Shell and by BP. The collection came to be regarded as one of the 'area study centres' established as a result of the Hayter Report published in 1961. These centres agreed to specialise in certain subjects or areas of the Middle East and the Cambridge Centre took on the responsibility for books on the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf region. There has been little funding available over recent years and the collection has not been added to in a consistent way since about 1990.
The major strengths of the section lie aspects of the politics and economics of the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf area in the twentieth century. There are many Russian publications included in the collection.
General arrangement and access regulations
The books collection of the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (formerly Middle East Centre) is shelved around the central reading area of the Library. The journals collection was amalgamated some years ago with the Middle Eastern collections of the Faculty Library. There is a separate CMEIS reading room on the ground floor of the Faculty for newspapers and ephemeral journals.