The term “the Arab world” evokes vast territories marked by the footprints of a great diversity of civilizations. In today’s world, twenty-two states define themselves as Arab and share a certain number of common cultural traits.
It was in the Arabian Peninsula that the first elements of Arab culture slowly developed over the first millennium BC, leading to the emergency in the 3rd century, of an Arab identity based principally on a common language.
After the appearance of Islam in the 7th century and its implantation outside the Arabian Peninsula, spoken and written Arabic were adopted in various ways by these local populations.
The use of Arabic has not always led to the Arabization of the local population. Within this great landmass, languages of many diverse origins are spoken, such as Aramaic, Amazigh (Berber), and Kurdish… All of these carry their own ways of thinking, value systems, cultural perceptions and collective imaginations, anchored in the distant past, in different environments and through a variety of founding experiences. There are then the different religious practiced, some of which originated in pre-Islamic times, most notable Judaism and Christianity.
“Arabness” denotes a multi-faceted, modern and complex identity, influenced by a wide range of socio-cultural, historical and political factors and the diversity of the regions it encompasses.
From the wall of the Permenant Exhibit at the World Arab Institute