The Arab World

The Arab World is a term that refers to the Arabic speaking nations, which are 25 countries and territories with a combined population of 358 million people, most of which are in the Middle East. The official language in all of them is Arabic, and the inhabitants define themselves as Arabs due to linguistic, genealogical inherents in addition to political considerations. However, some people choose to define Arabs as only the individuals with direct ancestry from the Arabian Peninsula, regardless of the mother tongue being Arabic. For example some Egyptians prefer not to be labeled as Arabs, but as Africans instead. This is also governed by demographic factors and furthermore, some sociologists believe that there is a state of identity crisis in the Arab world in general.

In Cairo, Egypt, lie the headquarters of the Arab league, a regional organization of Arab states, founded in 1945, which is meant to tighten the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries. Being a member is also indicative of one’s identity as being an Arab.

Israel is not a member despite being Palestinian Arab, Arabic being an official language, and its location being in the Middle East. And it will never be one due to a very long history of conflict between the Arabs and Israel. Most of the news you hear about the Arab world is from this region of conflict. Some trace the beginning of the conflict to large-scale Jewish immigration to Palestine, with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Since then, the situation in the region has been unstable, and several wars broke out between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries such as Lebanon and Egypt. At the moment there is a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, but the relationships are not yet normalized. There is opposition against the normalization of relationships with Israel even though the Egyptian government maintains a pro-normalization stand and has signed many normalization agreements with the Israeli government.

The Arab world is mainly Muslim, and some countries adhere to the Islamic law or Shariah in their legal system such as Saudi Arabia while others are secular. There is also a significant number of Christians, primarily in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, and very limited numbers of Jews.

The nature of the Arab countries socially, economically and politically is really diverse. In the Arabian Peninsula, countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the Emirates tend to be more rigid and conservative, and their economic status is the highest in the region due to the oil exports. The spoken dialect there is very close to the Fusha or Classical Arabic. The West-African part of the Arab world (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) was occupied by France for a while, so the dialect there is strongly influenced by the French language. In the mid region – Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine – the dialect is widely understood over the region, and life is less conservative than in the Arabian Peninsula.

Even though the Arabian culture unifies the Arab world, with so many shared traditions and habits, each country still maintains a certain individuality and still holds its legacy from former civilizations such as the Pharonic, Coptic and Roman civilizations in Egypt, the Mesopotamian civilization in Iraq, the Berberian legacy in Morocco, and much more.

The Arabic culture is famous for its hospitality and warmth. In general, families are closer together, and the youth normally do not move out of their parents’ house until later on when they’re married. Marriage is also valued. These are the norms of course but in every society the youth always rebel and have their own new norms that suit their mentality. Women’s rights is still a major issue in some countries of the Arab world such as Saudi Arabia, but they have the same rights as men in most countries.
This was an overview of the Arab world; let me know if you have any questions.

[اللغة العربية]

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