Archive for November, 2007

So, where exactly is the Middle East?

Friday, November 16th, 2007

On our website we have been using the terms “Middle East” & the “Arab World” interchangeably although, technically, they mean two different groups of countries.

The term “Middle East” was made popular around 1900 in Britain, and has been criticized for its loose definition of boundaries. The modern definition of the region includes: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The “Arab World, on the other hand, stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to Central Africa and the Indian Ocean in the south. It consists of 23 countries:  Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Yemen.
The Arabic language forms a unifying feature of the Arab World. Though different areas use local dialects of Arabic, they all share in the use of the standard classical written language.  The term “Arab” is generally dominant over origin. That is why, individuals with no direct ancestry from the Arabian Peninsula are still considered to be Arabs just by virtue of their mother tongue. 

So, since Alpha-Z is all about Arabic language & culture, please forgive us when we use “Middle East”, and just take to mean the “Arab World” :-)  

You can’t say NO to food

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Big Guy Food is huge in the Middle Eastern culture, and is one of the most important ways to express hospitality and generosity.  When you are invited to an Arab’s home, you will be served a variety of dishes & drinks.  If your host is generous, then expect the amount of food to be enough to feed a small army :-)  If at any point you stop eating, you will be offered more of everything that you had and a portion of the dish that you missed.  Even if you decline something, your host will offer it to you again & again until you accept (unless, of course, you give a health reason like diabetes OR you decline three consecutive times).