THE BIRTHPLACE OF CIVILIZATION
The Middle East—the western portion of Asia, connecting it to Africa and Europe—includes the Anatolian Peninsula: Turkey; lands of Persia and the area surrounding early Mesopotamia (between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers): Iraq, Syria and Iran; the Holy Lands: Lebanon, Israel, Jordan; the Arabian Peninsula (flowing into Egypt): Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Yemen.
Early farming practices, which developed in Mesopotamia due to the harsh climate and fertile soil, lead to the first civilizations: the ancient Sumerians and Assyrians. The region has long been a passage for trade routes between the continents.
The Abrahamic monotheistic religions of Judaism, then Christianity, and later Islam, trace their roots to the Holy Lands along the Mediterranean Sea. The spread of Islam is reflective in much of the culture throughout the area: Muslim architecture, calls to prayer heard throughout the day, styles of design and dress, food and spices, and a visible connection to mathematics and nature in design.
Islam is an Arabic word which means “surrender, submission, commitment and peace.”
—United Religions Initiative