Return to Welcome to the UAE

Introduction to Arabia

a.       Geography

The word Arabia is synonymous with the Arabian Peninsula, which is situated southwest Asia between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Politically, it includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Arabia has an estimated one third of the world’s oil reserves.



Area (sq. km)


Population (approx.)

Saudi Arabia

























b.      History

The early Arabs were the tribes of Northern Arabia speaking proto Arabic dialects. Although since early days other people became Arabs through an Arabization process that could mean intermarriage with Arabs, adopting the Arabic language and culture, or both. The same process happened all over the Arab world after the spread of Islam by the mixing of Arabs with several other peoples. The Arab cultures went through a mixing process. Therefore every Arab country has cultural specificities which constitute a cultural mix which also originate in local novelties achieved after the Arabization took place. However, all Arab countries do also share a common culture in most Aspects: Arts (music, literature, poetry, calligraphy…), Cultural products (Handicrafts, carpets, henna, and bronze carving…), Social behavior and relations (Hospitality, codes of conduct among friends and family…), Customs and superstitions, some dishes, Traditional clothing, Architecture…

Muslim but non-Arab people, who are about 80 percent of the world’s Muslim population, do not form part of the Arab world, but instead comprise what is the geographically larger, and more diverse, Muslim world.

Arabic, the main unifying feature among Arabs, is a Semitic language originating in Arabia. From there it spread to a variety of distinct peoples across most of West Asia and North Africa, resulting in their acculturation and eventual denomination as Arabs

With the rise of Islam in the 7th century, and as the language of the Qur’an, Arabic became the lingua franca of the Islamic world. It was in this period that Arabic language and culture was widely disseminated with the early Islamic expansion, both through conquest and cultural contact.

Arabic culture and language, however, began a more limited diffusion before the Islamic age, first spreading in West Asia beginning in the 2nd century, as Arab Christians began migrating north from Arabia into the Syrian Desert, south western Iraq and the Levant.

In the modern era, defining who is an Arab is done on the grounds of one or more of the following two criteria:

  • Genealogical: someone who can trace his or her ancestry to      the tribes of Arabia – the original inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula –   and the Syrian Desert. This was the definition used in medieval times, but   has decreased in importance over time, as a portion of those of Arab ancestry lost their links with their ancestors’ motherland. In the modern era, however, DNA tests have at times proved reliable in identifying those of Arab genealogical descent.
  • Linguistic: someone whose first language, and by extension  cultural expression, is Arabic, including any of its varieties. This definition covers more than 300 million people. Certain groups that  fulfill this criterion reject this definition on the basis of non-Arab  ancestry; such an example may be seen in the way that Egyptians identified themselves in the early 20th century.


Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.