Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies
The Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies (MECAS) was an Arabic language college in Chemlane (Shemlan), in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon. It was opened by the British Government in 1947. Initially, the language center was housed in a small building, but later expanded to a much larger enclosure.
The college gained notoriety as a "spy school" because many of the students were believed to work for the American Central Intelligence Agency or the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, particularly as it was located in a Christian area. While many of its graduates went on to work for the western secret services, many spies and double agents of the Soviets, including George Blake, also attended the MECAS.
Sir James Craig wrote Shemlan: A History of the Middle East Center for Arabic Studies, a book in which he gives an account of the school and a description of pre-Civil War Shemlan. The Civil War made the situation increasingly difficult, and in 1976, MECAS was temporarily evacuated before closing altogether in 1978. Today it is the Help and Hope Institution, run by the Dar Al-Aytam Al-Islamiyah, which is home to 200 mentally handicapped children.
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