The tradition of Middle Eastern studies in Finland is long but rather thin. The chair for Oriental Languages (mainly Hebrew and Aramaic) was established at Turku University in 1640, changing its name (Linguarum Orientalium Professio) several times over the years before becoming Semitic Languages. After the great fire destroyed almost the whole city of Turku, the university was relocated to Helsinki in 1828. In the mid-19th century, the chair was held by G.A. Wallin (d. 1852), an explorer of the Arabian Peninsula (and a visitor to the holy city of Mecca) and one of the first scholars, worldwide, to study Arabic dialects. In the latter part of the 19th century, Assyriology became the most flourishing field of Middle Eastern Studies in Finland, several great Assyriologists, such as Knut Tallqvist (d. 1949), holding the chair of Oriental Languages. Though concentrating on Assyriology, Assyriologists also kept alive Arabic philological studies, which gained additional weight in the 1960s when the Assyriologist and Comparative Semitist Jussi Aro (d. 1983) was appointed as professor. He retrained himself as a dialectologist, working with Lebanese dialects. It was only in 1980 that a chair for Arabic Language was established and another dialectologist, Heikki Palva, was appointed to it in 1982. After the retirement of Professor Palva in 1998, the chair was renamed Arabic and Islamic Studies. The chair, at the Institute for Asian and African Studies (IAAS, University of Helsinki), has been held by the present writer, Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, since 2000.