The Middle East or the Middle Eastern is a reference term used to denote the
area that does not really have an exact boundary but largely lies between
south-west Asia and northern Africa. Known for its long and heavy history, the
Middle East even today reminds one of political conflicts. Middle East is the
home of the three major religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and also Yezidi,
Zoroastrianism, and the Bahai Faith. Pertaining to the Suez Crisis of 1957, the
first official usage of the term "Middle East" came from the U.S.
President Eisenhower, who in his doctrine mentioned the term explained as the
region between Libya (West) and Pakistan, with Syria and Iraq (North) to the
southern Arabian Peninsula.
The arid conditions around the region are compensated by some major rivers
providing fertility and irrigation facilities to a limited extent. The source
of crude oil, Middle East remains an economically sensitive area in modern
times. One may also be cautious about the political, cultural and religious
sensitivity while in the Middle East. Most of the population has occupied the
area for a relatively longer period than most geographical races have
elsewhere. The sense of belonging in the Middle East can be a very insightful
thing to note.
Having no particular borders, loose usage of the term 'Middle East' has also
been criticized by many for its tendency to appear as a classification done by
In the northern countries like Turkey and Armenia, the summers are hot and dry
with mild winters. Towards the interiors, harsher weather and drier winters are
prevalent. Armenia has some of the Eurasian mountain ranges extending in, a bit
of forest and fast-flowing rivers providing for fertility. The countries on the
eastern side like Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and north-west
Iran are abundant with mountains, but are extremely dry and mostly unfriendly
to agriculture. However conditions in the region are suitable to have made
opium farming an economic culture in Afghanistan.
The majority of Iran is arid, but subtropical towards the coasts. The terrain
varies between mountains, and discontinuous plains along coasts. Saudi Arabia,
Yemen and Oman open out to the sea after large areas of arid deserts with
extreme temperatures over their main lands. The Israel climate can be hot and
dry in southern and eastern desert areas but is largely temperate. Central
mountains, low coastal plains, the southern desert Nedev and the Jordan Rift
Valley mark the variations in the Israeli terrain.
The controversial territorial borders around the Gaza Strip and West Bank are
in constant debate. Palestine - Israel conflicts are centred mainly about the
same. The Lebanon climate is mostly Mediterranean with mild cool winters, hot
and dry summers with mountains in Lebanon receiving regular snow-fall. Lebanon
has a long strip of coastline against the Mediterranean Sea on the West, and is
bordered with Syria by the "anti-Lebanon" Mountains.
UAE (United Arab Emirates) on south-eastern region of the peninsula and located
below Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, has its northern and eastern borders with the
Persian Gulf. No specific border exists with neighbouring Oman. A coastal
terrain merges into the vast arid areas inwards from the sea to the south and
some mountainous terrain towards the east.
History, people and culture
The political history of Middle East is laden primarily with conflicts between
different religious groups probably owing to being the birthplace of many major
religions, including Islam, Judaism, Yezidi and Christianity.
The earliest civilizations in the Middle East region are found in Mesopotamia
(mainly Iran) and Egypt. The fertile Nile region was the basis of a beginning
of the region's major developments in the early period (3,500 BC). By the turn
of the 6th century BC several empires like the Macedonian Empire founded by
Alexander ruled the Middle East as others including the expanding Roman Empire
built important States in the region, over the centuries. By the 1st century
BC, the Roman Empire included the Middle East as a part of the bigger territory
joined by Europe and North Africa.
By the 7th century AD, the Islamic conquest of Persia led to the rise of the
Islamic Caliphate. The influences of the Romans and the spread of Christianity
in the region gradually lost place. Northern Africa came to become the
peripheral to most Muslim centres. Morocco, however, broke free to form one of
the most advanced societies of the time (800's - 1100's).
Since the end of the 1100's the region faced attacks by Turks and Mongols when
the dominance of the Caliphate lost significance. Next were the Ottoman troops
who expanded into Europe through the Middle East. By the 1700's the Ottoman
troops lost most of Europe. Although western parts of Asia such as Bosnia and
Albania had mostly a population converted to Islam, the region is not believed
to have been absorbed into the culture of Islam.
European domination settled on the Middle Eastern stretch ruled by the Ottoman
Turks as they needed to be economically regulated over failing policies. As the
Ottoman expanse shrunk, the world saw a change in the control power of the
region. Turkey was an alliance of Germany, facing a tough defeat from the
Allied Forces. This saw the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire and an awakening
of Arab nationalism. Syria became a French protectorate and while Iraq and
Palestine became British mandate territories. Palestine was partitioned with
the eastern part becoming the "Emirate of Transjordan" ruled by the
Abdullah, and the West a British territory which lasted till the mid 1900's.
American involvement in the Middle East has been faced with conflict. The
possibilities of a United Arab military force was ended with the peace treaty
signed by Anwar Saddat. Yasser Arafat led the PLO (Palestine Liberation
Organization) against Israel and Western targets (primarily American) since
1975. The fall of the Soviet saw various conflicts and complications with
political borders in the middle-eastern countries. The Kuwait issues had given
rise to the Gulf war of America against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The
conflicts continued in the 2006 American attacks on Iraq.
Culturally, the Middle Eastern region is built on an extensive legacy of folk
and urban ancient heritage. The arts, science, literature, mathematics and
legislation were in advanced implementation mostly in Persia, Egypt and Sumer.
A lasting impression is believed to have left the cultures of Greece and Rome.
Today, the Middle East is renowned for its rich cultural contribution. Being
the home to three major world religions, a colourful entertainment industry
with an interesting tradition of folk music and dance, and a growing economy
makes the Middle East an exciting destination.
Places of tourist interest and night life
Mecca - The holy city of
Mecca is a pilgrimage destination for all Muslims in the world with the
religious binding of having to visit it at least once in a lifetime. This
is the centre of the Islamic world located in the Makkah Province of Saudi
Arabia. Entry into the Mecca has strict rules. A tourist needs to be a
certified Muslim from the local mosque and women below 45 should be
accompanied by the male head of the family.
Dubai desert safari - One of
the most exciting events in the Middle East is the Dubai desert safari in
the UAE. The adventure includes sand skiing and dune bashing. The real
wild fun comes alive when professional drivers drive around the desert
climbing dune-mountains, given the joy ride of a lifetime inside a vehicle
for an hour or more. To witness the breathtaking sunsets, the drivers
navigate tourists to special zones after the rides.
Dubai beaches - Most famous
for its cosmopolitan population, Dubai offers great beaches which are
perfect for the night parties and water sports. Outdoor recreation in
Dubai beaches primarily include volleyball, snorkelling, scuba diving,
swimming, sailing, sunbathing, picnicking and private parties. The most
famous of the beaches is the Jumeirah beach close to the Arabian Gulf.
Other beaches include Al Mamzar Park, Deira and the Corniche.
Amman - Here is the place
where modern Jordan and ancient Middle East blend into the capital
mountain city of Amman. Jordan with all its preserved history, even from
the stone-age, makes Jordan Archaeological Museum a definite destination.
Amman also offers a great night life with its cosmopolitan influence
pretty vividly felt.
Baalbek - Situated in
northern Beirut, Baalbek ruins is one of Lebanon's greatest treasures.
Roman temples in considerable numbers to a triad of the gods, Jupiter,
Venus and Mercury are monuments from centuries of Roman occupation. An
entire day may be spent appreciating the intricate stone work of the
Baalbek ruins. Guided tours are available for exciting insights into
ancient Roman and Lebanese cultures.
The entertainment and night life in the Middle East is vibrant in most of the
capital cities. A rich tradition of music and dance makes them exciting tourist
destinations for the lovers of music, dance and culture.
Authors: Shampa Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris Updated On:17/11/2009