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Myths of Living in the Arab World

posted on: Mar 7, 2022

Photo: Dubai, Doha, Beirut, top list of most expensive Arab cities

By: Nouha Elyazidi / Arab American Contributing Writer

From Aladdin to media news outlets, the Arab world is surrounded by misconceptions and stereotypes. One of the biggest misconceptions presented by western media is what life is like in the Arab world. The inhabitants of the Arab world live very differently than Hollywood may suggest, so let’s look into and debunk stereotypes about life in the Arab world.

All Arabs Live in Tents

Photo: Arabian Style homes

Everyone who lives in or has visited Dubai, Riyadh, Doha, Manama, Muscat, and countless more will object to this one. The Arab world has countless modernized cities, and even those who live in villages or rural areas, people have quaint homes, not tents. The stunning architecture and designs of homes throughout the Arab world are among the most beautiful in the world, so these ignorant stereotypes could not be further from the truth.

“Arab Money”

Photo: Analysis Arab Money

The “Arab Money” stereotype is a rather new one that emerged following the rise in popularity of large gulf cities/states in the Middle East such as Kuwait City and Abu Dhabi. This stereotype has also emerged from popular culture with multiple songs discussing “Arab Money.” These cities are stunning with an exciting lifestyle, however; this is not a representation of a universal lifestyle among Arabs in the Arab world. The Arab world is very economically diverse and lifestyles different from city to city and nation to nation.

All Arabs are Muslim

Photo: Religous Minoties in the Modern Middle East

A very common misconception is that all Arabs are Muslims and all Muslims are Arab. This is false, for the Arab world is very religiously diverse. The Arab world is where the three Abrahamic originated and is home to Christians, Jews, Maronites, Druze, Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and many more.


Camel caravan going through the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, Morocco.

Although camels are a common animal in the desert regions of the Middle East, wild camels do not simply roam the streets of Oran or Amman. Camel rides are a very popular tourist attraction, but no one is riding camels in the city center or using them as a method of transportation within large cities.

The Whole Arab World Lives in Deserts

Photo: Gorgeous Cities in the Middle East

Major cities in the Arab world have humongous skyscrapers and a plethora of cities in the Arab world are built in a variety of landscapes, so this is not a true statement. Additionally, Lebanon, an Arab country, does not even have a desert, so this statement is factually incorrect!

All Arabs Are the Same

Photo: Arab

The Arab world is incredibly diverse, with a wide range of cultures, religions, languages, and lifestyles. Arabs are by no means the same across the board, for even from city to city you can find different languages, peoples, and religions.

Arabs Are Uneducated

This stereotype is interesting considering the first university in the world was built by a Muslim Arab woman in an Arab country. The Arab world is home to a plethora of esteemed universities and institutions of education. In addition, the Arab world has research institutions and corporations conducting globally beneficial educational efforts and projects that contribute to global development and advancements.

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