The Arab World: What is the Arab World?

Many people think of the Arab world as the Islamic countries. But the Islamic country Turkey, for example, is not an Arab country at all. Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also not Arab countries. Why is that so? Everything about the Arab world and which countries fall under the Arab world.

What is an Arab?

In the past, a native of Arabia was called an Arab. Arabia was then:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • Oman
  • Yemen
  • Qatar
  • Kuwait


When is someone an Arab?

In 2011, someone is called an Arab if:

  1. he or she speaks Arabic as his or her native language
  2. Lives in an Arabic culture


Who all lives in an Arab culture?

According to the Arab League, there are about 300 million people who have to call themselves Arabs because they live in an Arab country and have Arabic as their mother tongue. These 300 million people live in the area from Morocco to Mauritania to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea in the east.

Which countries belong to the Arab world?

The countries below belong to the Arab world:

  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Djibouti
  • Iraq
  • Yemen
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Morocco
  • Mauritania
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates


In the 7th century the Arab empire continued to expand

The arrival of Islam in the 7th century caused the Arab empire to expand. There was, as it were, an Arabization of non-Arab countries. Peoples who until then had their own language and religion adopted the Arabic culture and language. This happened, among other things, in countries in North Africa. Egyptians, for example, are descended from the ancient Egyptians who did not believe in Islam, but in their own gods. The North African Arabs were generally Berbers with their own language and customs. Peoples in Iraq and Syria also had no Arab influence, but later became Arabized. Persia, now called Iran, is part of the Arab empire, but no Arabization has taken place there. However, the Persian language (also referred to as Farsi) does have many Arabic loan words.

The Islamic world and the Arab world are not the same

The Arab world is not the same as the Islamic world. The Islamic world is much larger than the Arab world. Islamic countries are not connected or much less connected to Arab culture, no Arabic is spoken, but Islam is the main religion in those countries.

What is the Ummah?

The Ummah is the worldwide Muslim community. It therefore includes all countries in which the main religion is Islam. Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Turkey, Pakistan and many countries in North and East Africa belong to the Islamic world, but not to the Arab world.

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