Daily Archives: June 10, 2011

Myth #4

Myth #4: The Arabs are a desert people.

To think of the Arab world through the desert and its nomadic inhabitants is a huge distortion of the reality of their societies. It’s like using an account of seventeenth-century English rural life to explain modern Britain. Or Lewis and Clark’s journal to capture the modern lifestyle of American Indians.
Most people in the Arabian peninsula aren’t nomads, but are either agricultural laborers (a.k.a. farmers) or inhabitants of the eight or so major maritime and cosmopolitan cities that mark the coast of the Peninsula (think Kuwait City or Dubai).

A “desert” is where nothing grows. This accounts for only a quarter of the Arabian peninsula! A little less than 50 percent of Utah’s land falls within The Great Basin desert.

Another myth is that people often mix the term ‘desert’ with ‘nomad‘, ‘bedouin‘, and ‘tribe‘.¬† A desert is a geographical landmass, whereas the last three terms describe entire cultures and lifestyles.

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