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Naming Middle East: Outline Research Paper


Introduction

Geographically, Middle East is in West Asia. People have traditionally used the term ‘West Asia’ to differentiate the region with the Eastern part of Asia. However, ethnically, the Middle East is different from other parts of Asia because of its high Arab population.

From this notable difference, the Middle East has defined its identity from the rest of the Asian continent. Nonetheless, there are calls to rename Middle East as West Asia because of its significance in the Asian continent, and its geographic position in the same region (Telhami, 2002).

This paper opposes this view by proposing three reasons for the preservation of the Middle East name. First, the extension of Middle East into Asia and Africa shows that Middle East is not exclusively part of the Asian peninsular. Secondly, this paper suggests that Middle East has its unique identity, which differentiates the region from other parts of Asia, like China or India. Therefore, if Middle East is renamed West Asia, the region may lose its identity.

Lastly, this paper acknowledges that the social and economic relation between Middle East and the rest of Asia is strong, but this relationship is insufficient to warrant the renaming of Middle East as West Asia. Comprehensively, there are significant geographic, social, political, and economic differences between Middle East and the rest of Asia, which suggest the preservation of the Middle East name.

Geographic Limitation

Traditionally, the Middle East comprises of many countries that stretch across several parts of North Africa and West Asia. Therefore, besides the common Middle East countries such as Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon (located in West Asia), there are other traditional Middle East countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, which are located in Northern Africa.

Therefore, the distributions of Middle East countries stretch across two continents. It would therefore be incorrect to rename Middle East as West Asia because North Africa is also part of the Middle East. Moreover, Africa is an independent continent that has its geographic boundaries, which is independent of Asia. The conception of the ‘West Asia’ name is therefore narrow because it fails to capture the full scope of the Middle East region.

Preservation of the Middle East Identity

Middle East has a special identity that differentiates the region from other parts of the world. Its identity not only cuts across its social and political spheres, but also its geographic and economic makeup. For example, Middle Eastern people dress differently from other countries around the world (not only in Asia).

For example, women wear the Niqab as a respectable formal wear in the region (Omair, 2009, p. 412). Other parts of Asia (such as India) adopt a different style of clothing. Middle East architecture is also different from other parts of Asia. For example, Middle East architecture greatly differs from Chinese architecture.

These differences show the varied identities of Middle Eastern people and the rest of the Asian continent. These differences are deeper while analyzing religion, lifestyle, and politics. Therefore, after considering the significant differences between these two regions, it is crucial to preserve the Middle East identity. It is also incorrect to change the name of Middle East to west Asia.

Relationship with the Rest of Asia

Molavi (2011) says that the trade between the Arab world (GCC countries) and the rest of Asia supersedes the level of trade in the Middle East region. Molavi (2011) estimates the trade between Asia and the rest of the Middle East to peak during 2017 (observers estimate that Asia will be Middle East’s biggest trading partner).

To this extent, some people have voiced their suggestions to rename Middle East as West Asia. However, the strong trade relation between Middle East and the rest of Asia does not provide sufficient grounds to warrant a name change. Comparatively, many other regions around the world have strong trade relations, but they do not consider a name change because of their strong trade ties.

For example, there is an increased volume of trade between China and America. In fact, billions of dollars in trade revolve between the two countries alone (Morris, 2001). The strong trade relation between China and America has however not warranted a name change from either of the two trading partners. Therefore, it is incorrect to claim a name change for Middle East, just because it shares a cordial trade relationship with the rest of Asia.

Effect of Name Change on the Economy

From the growth of globalization, regional economic dynamics spread fast among different countries. Therefore, if Middle East changes its name to West Asia, it may suffer the same economic fortunes as the rest of the continent. For example, developed countries allocate aid to regions and continents around the globe. A name change would therefore mean that Middle East has to share the same aid as Asia. This would undermine its economic prospects.

Conclusion

The effect of a name change on the Middle East would be profound. Traditionally, the world has understood Middle East as a region with unique economic, social, and political dynamics. This paper identifies that these unique attributes of the region may disappear with a name change.

Moreover, Middle East is slowly making a name for itself as a global economic powerhouse. This trend has seen Middle East develop close ties with the rest of Asia. However, if the region loses its identity, it may lose its economic dominance in regional trade. Lastly, it makes no sense renaming Middle East as West Asia, while a large portion of the region is not even in Asia. Comprehensively, these dynamics show that Middle East should preserve its identity.

References

Molavi, A. (2011). ‘Middle East’ Is Pulled Towards Asia By Economics And Affinity. Retrieved from

Morris, D. (2001). China: The Bitter Roots Of Foreign Trade Through The Eyes Of Asian Culture. Journal of Global Competitiveness, 11(2), 25 – 38.

Omair, K. (2009). Arab women managers and identity formation through clothing. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 24(6), 412 – 431.

Telhami, S. (2002). Identity and Foreign Policy in the Middle East. New York: Cornell University Press.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Naming Middle East: Outline." September 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/naming-middle-east-outline/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Naming Middle East: Outline'. 14 September.

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