OPEMAM stands (in its original Spanish form) for "Observatory of Politics and Elections in the Arab and Muslim World". Founded in 2006 at the Autónoma University of Madrid and originally called TEIM Election Watch (in honour of the Taller de Estudios Internacionales Mediterráneos, the postgraduate research centre at the Department of Arab and Islamic Studies where it was established), OPEMAM is currently an independent research entity attached to the Autónoma University of Madrid through institutional and personal ties.

Its present team of twenty-five researchers, made up of university lecturers and post-graduate researchers, is based in Madrid but has members across Europe and the Arab and Muslim world. Until now OPEMAM has been funded by the Spanish government through the Ministry of Science, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development and the Human Rights Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as by a range of private and public foundations.

OPEMAM's academic observation is completely independent. Its analysis and election reports do not pass through government filters.

OPEMAM's main focus has always been on academic observation of elections. Academic electoral observation differs from the conventional electoral observation carried out, for instance, by international organisations such as the OSCE, EU and UN, in that it does not rely on large teams of observers carrying out a detailed mission in accordance with pre-established terms and conditions reached with a country's government.

While academic observation does also entail observing election campaigns and polling stations, it is also based on prior expert knowledge of a country, contact and exchange with local university academics as well as associations involved with the election. Another major difference is that OPEMAM's academic observation is completely independent which allows it to publish its analysis and election reports without the need to pass through government filters.