The Middle East has a diverse culture full of delicious cuisines and long-lived traditions. Plus, it is responsible for some of the most groundbreaking inventions that you likely use on the daily.
So if you’re looking for the world’s tallest building or looking to learn where the world’s most common name originated from, check out these fascinating facts about all the Middle East has to offer.
You Can Thank The Middle East For Your Morning Coffee
That cup of coffee you can’t start your day without is thanks to an Ethiopian shepherd named Kaldi who first discovered the effects of coffee beans in the 11th century. He made the observation that his herd of goats became significantly more energetic after eating it.
The beans were then brought to Yemen so that could use them to concentrate harder while they pray.
The Biggest Mushrooms You’ll Ever See
American scientists found a 20-foot tall fungus in Saudi Arabia in 2007. It turns out they actually discovered gigantic mushrooms that once took over the land 350 million years ago before they went extinct. They say it was probably the biggest living thing on dry land at the time!
The Original Shawarma That Will Make Your Mouth Water
Believe it or not, shawarma wasn’t meant to be a hangover food. Rather, it is a traditional meal that can be found at most middle eastern street vendors.
It comes in tender bits of skewered chicken, lamb, or beef topped with garlic puree and salad, then wrapped in a pita. It’s sure to fill you up without any care for how garlicky you smell.
The Source Of One Of The Biggest Lingerie Exports
Believe it or not, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia account for 77% of Europe’s total lingerie exports. Although women tend to cover up a little more on the streets, Saudi Arabia alone took $1 billion in revenue from lingerie sales in 2010.
The Arabic Language is More Influential Than You Think
Did you know that many English words like ‘algebra,’ and ‘admiral,’ come from Arabic? Arabic is especially common in the Spanish language where it has influenced over 4,000 Spanish words and location names. It’s actually considered the 2nd most important influence (after Latin) on the Spanish language.
They Wrote The First-Ever Cheque
The check as a form of payment originates from the ‘saqq’ culture. This was a written vow to pay for goods once they were delivered. They then developed the system so that they can avoid transporting money through dangerous territories.
It Is Credited For Surgery Advancement
A man named doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page illustrated encyclopedia of surgery around the year 1000. It was used in Europe as a medical reference for the next 500 years.
The First Starbucks Predecessor Came From Turkey
Turkey holds the record of the world’s first coffee shop (Kiva Han), which opened in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1475. This is because the use of coffee grew in popularity across the region and the natural follow up invention was the cafe. For hundreds of years, it was still closely associated with religion.
Home To The Tallest Building In The World
Even though Dubai was relatively modest before discovering oil in 1996, today it hosts the tallest man-made building in the world. The Burj Khalifa is named after the president of the UAE and attracts tourists from all over the world.
Dental Hygiene Came From A Twig
The first toothbrush was made by fraying the edges of a twig by the ancient Babylonians. Funny enough, similar tools were found in ancient Egyptian tombs. They say the Prophet Mohammed is the one who popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600 CE.
They Hold The Record For The Most Common Boy Name In The World
The name ‘Muhammad’ (in all its spellings) is thought to be the most common name in the world. It has been on the birth certificates of 150 million men/boys across the world!
Figuring Out What Time Of Day It Is
You can thank the Middle East for the clock and being able to tell time! The system of counting from zero to 60 dates back to 2000 BC in Sumer (now Iran and Iraq). Yet even before that, ancient Egyptians invented the water clock. It was a tool to measure time through the amount of water passing in or out of a container while using weights.
Lebanon Alone Has 18 Official Religions
The middle east is very diverse in its customs and practices. Just in Lebanon, there are 18 official religions: four Muslim sects, 12 Christian sects, the Druze, and Judaism. Politically, however, Lebanon operates on a confessionalist system, where seats in the government and legislature are selected according to religious sects.
The Most Hospitable People
Visit any middle eastern country and you’ll immediately be welcomed as part of the family. This nature is a habit that originates from the Bedouin culture, where nomadic travelers were always welcomed into homes for food and shelter in the harsh conditions of the desert.
Morocco Has The Potential To Be The Largest Solar Power Source
Morocco recently opened one of the world’s largest solar power plants. Once its first two phases are completed successfully, it will be the world’s largest solar power production facility. That’s a step forward towards helping the environment.
The First Degree-Granting University
Back in 859, a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez in Morocco. Then, her sister Miriam founded an adjacent mosque, and together they formed the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. It still has its doors open almost 1200 years later.
The Creation Of The World’s First-Ever Flying Machine
Ibn Firnas was a poet, astronomer, musician, and engineer who lived in Andalusia (now Spain) in 857 AD. At the age of 70, he made the world’s first-ever flying machine from silk and eagle feathers.
Then he jumped from a mountain while strapped into it. Luckily for him, the machine flew into the sky and stayed there for a whole ten minutes. Then, it crashed…
They Made A Mark On Music
Back in the days of Charlemagne, Europe tried to compete with the music of places like Baghdad and Cordoba. They even influenced some of the instruments that arrived in Europe like the lute and the rehab (an ancestor of the violin). They also say that Modern musical scales derive from the Arabic alphabet.
It Holds The World’s Largest Fossil Water Aquifer System
lt stands right beneath the four African countries Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Fossil water is groundwater that has been trapped in underground aquifers for thousands or even millions of years and is a nonrenewable source.
Three-Course Meals To Satisfy All Cravings
A Persian musician, poet, and teacher named Ziryab popularized the three-course meal in ninth-century Andalusia. Basically, he insisted that meals need to be served in the following format: soup, followed by the main dish of meat or fish, and finishing off with a sweet dessert. Obviously it stuck.