For centuries Sweden has had many and varied contacts with the Middle East and North Africa region.
Since Sweden entered the European Union in 1995 Sweden participates in the ongoing efforts towards closer co-operation between the EU and its Mediterranean neighbours as expressed in the Barcelona Declaration on the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. Sweden also has a long record of active engagement in issues of North-South relations, and of development co-operation with countries of the South.
It was in this light that the Swedish government in 1997 initiated a study on the establishment of a platform for dialogue. The motive was to develop a means to increase broad contacts and co-operation with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, to facilitate dialogues on issues of common concern, and to contribute to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
The Swedish Institute Alexandria (SwedAlex) was established by the government in 1998 as an integral part of the Swedish Foreign Service and operated from premises in Alexandria in Egypt. It closed the office in Alexandria in March 2019 and is since then temporarily based in Stockholm, until relocating to a new place in the Middle East North Africa region. In December 2019 the Institute changed its name to the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa.