Tonight, Obama departs for a two-day stint in the Middle East, where he will meet with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and deliver a much-anticipated speech at Cairo University.

"What we want to do is open a dialogue," Obama told the BBC. "No one speech is going to solve every problem. ... But it did seem to me that this was an opportunity for us to get both sides to listen to each other a little bit more."

Click through today's TNR slideshow to see previous American presidents on their trips to the Middle East. (Above, Obama at Istanbul's Blue Mosque in April).

--Elizabeth Sher

Photo courtesy of Charles Dharapak/AP