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Cultura e Mitologia / 03/11/2020

Arab Culture: learn about its origins and traditions

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Arab Culture: learn about its origins and traditions


Arab culture involves traditions, language and customs of peoples who originate in the territories of the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia.

Likewise, Arab culture is a concept independent of religion, as it encompasses Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan peoples.

If we consider only the countries of the "Arab League" (1946), there are at least three hundred million people who are part of that culture.

Arab Countries

The main countries of Arab culture are:

Arabian Peninsula




Saudi Arabia

United Arab Emirates




Nile Valley









Western Sahara

Fertile Crescent






Arab World

The Arab world comprises those countries and peoples that have adopted the Arabic language. They are mainly concentrated in North Africa.

One should not confuse "Arab world", which identifies with the language, with "Islamic world", which refers to religion.

Not all Arabs are Muslim (or Islamic) and many people who do not speak Arabic are Muslims.

Arab culture traveled with the peoples of these regions and arrived in Spain, Portugal and there they passed to the Americas. In countries like Brazil and Argentina there are important communities descended Arabs.

Origin of Arab Culture

Arab culture arises in the Arabian Peninsula with the Semitic peoples descended Ishmael, the patriarch son of Abraham.

The most representative figures are the Bedouin nomads, who lived in desert regions and were mainly supported by cattle raising.

However, with the formation of the Arab Empire in the 7th century, Islamic culture and religion spread across the peninsula, changing the customs of these nomadic peoples. Thus, Islam and language will be the basis of the “arabization” process in North Africa.

As this domain was done with relative tolerance, there was a reciprocal influence between those who were Muslims and spoke Arabic and the people who were dominated. Through their travels, the Arabs came into contact with the Hellenic peoples, learned and preserved their Greek philosophy.

In this way, Christian and Jewish communities were tolerated in the territories of Muslim majority and ended up absorbing Arab traditions.

Arab Culture Customs

In common, this culture has values ​​such as loyalty, honor, traditionalism, a sense of hospitality and conservatism. They prioritize friendship, respect, patience and privacy above all.

The Arab business tradition is also well known, in which it is necessary to have patience to bargain and negotiate the value of the goods.

Another important aspect of this culture concerns the ways of eating. Muslim Arabs do not eat pork, they eat only with their right hands and usually eat their meals sitting on the floor.

Arabic Religion

It is estimated that 90% of Arab peoples profess the Islamic religion, founded by Muhammad (Mohamad) in the year 622 of the Christian Era.

This faith united the numerous Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. For this reason, it is very common to think that all Arabs are Muslims.

However, communities of Christians, Jews and even those who hold animistic beliefs like the Yazidis, one of the peoples who form the Kurds, survive there.

Likewise, Jews and the Orthodox Church were already installed in the territories Islam flourished. There are also Christian denominations such as Melchites, Copts, Maronites, among others.

Therefore, it is incorrect to say that every Arab is a Muslim. Finally, remember that the largest Islamic country in the world, Indonesia, is not an Arab country.

Arab Family

The Arab family is patriarchal. The mother is responsible for household chores and housekeeping, while the father is the provider and makes the household decisions. Currently, however, in several Arab countries, women work outside the home.

It is common to find men who hug and exchange kisses on the cheek or walking hand in hand (this is a sign of great friendship).

However, when addressing a woman, Arab men usually do not look at them and only greet her with words. This is because in most Arab countries, public kissing between couples is prohibited.

Arabic Clothing

Generally, due to religious influence, Arab peoples tend to cover the body more than Westerners. High temperatures also make it necessary to wear veils and turbans to protect the face and head.

Women usually dress with more decorum and are hardly found with their hair uncovered.

They use a hijab (fabric that covers the head without hiding the face), an abaya (long black tunic) or a niqab (fabric that covers the lower part of the face). It is important to note that each country has its own clothing codes.

Islamic veils

In the same way, these Arab clothing or garments that show the more conservative side of this culture.

For their part, men can be found dressed in Western fashion, with jeans and a shirt. However, in countries like Saudi Arabia, you must wear a turban and tunic.

Arab Wedding

Islamic religion wedding ritual

The Arab wedding ceremony varies according to religion. However, one characteristic is certain: regardless of belief, the party will be long and very lively.

Muslim Arab Wedding

The Arab Muslim wedding (Nikah) is a colorful, cheerful, hearty and full of symbolic rituals. Typically, the event lasts up to three days.

They can be celebrated at any time, except the day after Ramadan or between the ninth and tenth day of the first month of the calendar of Islam.

As Arab culture is permeated by Islam, the wedding must be held in a mosque, under the blessings of an Imam or Sheik.

Traditionally, the first day is devoted to the engagement ceremony (Mangni). This represents an official rite in which the exchange of rings and the signature of marriage takes place.

It is a civil contract, signed by the groom, the bride and her guardian, endorsed by two more witnesses.

On the second day (Manjha), attention is focused on the bride. It is produced for the wedding with traditional henna tattoos (on the feet and hands), which can only be tattooed by single women.

Finally, on the third day, is when the wedding party itself takes place. At that moment, the families of the bride and groom will meet with the other guests, amidst a lot of food, music and dance.

As for clothing, it is worth mentioning that the bride can wear up to seven different dresses, as long as the dress used on the third day of the party is white. The groom, on the other hand, usually dresses in silk and turban.

Arabian language

Indeed, the Arabic language is a unifying factor in this civilization, as much as Islam, since the majority of Arabs are followers of Islam.

It is worth mentioning that the word "Arabic" means "clear" or "understandable" to refer to those whose language was intelligible.

Unlike the Latin and Anglo-Saxon languages, the Arabic language is written right to left and only has 3 vowels and 22 consonants.

Dissemination of Discoveries and Knowledge


Mosques are an example of Arab engineering and art, such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

The Arab peoples were great creators and transmitted knowledge of navigation to the Western world that allowed notable advances, such as the compass and the astrolabe.

In addition, alchemists were the precursors of modern chemistry and they are credited with discovering alcohol.

Mathematicians were equally important, we inherited knowledge about Arabic numerals, algebra and the concept of zero (brought India).

Arab Architecture

these algebraic calculations, Arab engineering and architecture were able to build beautiful mosques, palaces, with their arches, domes and minarets.

All of them are well decorated by the decorative art of the arabesques, the geometric motifs of Persian, Indian and Byzantine influence predominate.

It is worth mentioning here the religious prohibition of representing human figures, which justifies the predominance of geometric figures, plants and flowers in their precious mosaics.

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