Drought and disease know no political boundaries. Meeting these challenges and fully realizing potential innovations requires cooperation across the Middle East. Israel has a vibrant scientific community with an emphasis on applying research to unique regional challenges. Arab scientists in the Middle East and North Africa are also using science and technology to overcome core development challenges. Working together these scientists have led innovation in agriculture, environment, water resources, and health. Fully realizing potential innovations requires cooperation beyond borders and across the region.

The Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program was established in 1981 to facilitate research collaboration between Egyptian and Israeli scientists following the signing of the Camp David Accords. Since 1993, the program has expanded to include researchers from Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Bank and Gaza, and is open to supporting projects with partners in the Maghreb and Gulf regions. 

Today, at a time of rapid change in the Arab world, MERC continues to bring together Arab and Israeli scientists and students to create and share solutions to regional development challenges while promoting a peaceful exchange between neighbors.


  • Promote peaceful cooperation and cultural exchange between Arab and Israeli scientists.
  • Encourage innovation by inviting open-topic research proposals so regional investigators work on problems most relevant to them.
  • Focus on student and young scientist training by emphasizing cross-border exchanges between Arab and Israeli researchers.
  • Utilize peer review by U.S. scientists to ensure unbiased, thorough evaluation of research proposals.
  • Conduct targeted outreach to extend beneficial research results into the communities that will benefit the most.
  • Encourage direct Arab-Israeli cooperation while decreasing reliance on American intermediary scientists.

Project Examples

Learn about past and current research projects USAID has funded through MERC.


Learn about the MERC funding process

Arab Israeli olive farmer surveying the effectiveness of different olive fly traps in an olive orchard.
Kenneth Ludwa/USAID
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