Q&A on 'the Arab World'

The 8th Arab Cultural Festival

Things we want to know about the Arab World!

1. What is the definition of 'Arab'?

'Arab' refers to the twenty-two countries located in West Asia and North Africa whose people speak Arabic. 'Arab' is a cultural classification rather than a geographic or racial category. First, Arabs speak Arabic as their mother tongue; second, Arabs follow the religion of Islam; and third, Arabs are the group of people who claim to be the Arab people.

2. Does the term 'Middle East' come to be synonymous for 'Arab'? If not, what is the difference?

'The Middle East' is a geographic and political classification used by the British Empire to control the world in the late 19th century. As Great Britain saw itself as the center of the world, the region to its east was called 'the Orient', Asia was 'the Far East', the area comprising the Balkan Peninsula and Greece was called 'the Near East', and the middle region in the Arab world was called 'the Middle East'. In general the term Middle East covers most of the Arab countries but also includes Iran, Israel, and Turkey-countries where the people don't speak Arabic.

3. What is the difference between 'Islam' and 'Arab'

Islam is the name of religion. Islamic countries include not only the Middle East and Arab countries, but also all those countries whose people are followers of Islam in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Africa. Thus, Islam extends far beyond the borders of the Arab World.



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