The name ‘Middle East’ is a common name for everyone, yet it is not understood in full by most people around the world. The name ‘Middle East’ needs to be clearly defined worldwide because of the controversy that the name ‘Middle East’ evokes among the people. In fact, it is thought by some people that such name as the Middle East does not exist. Therefore, to prove the existence of the ‘Middle East’, several questions have to be answered as well as identify those who named the place, and the reasons behind its naming.
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This paper is, therefore, an in-depth analysis of the ‘Middle East’, by trying to give reasons and justifications of its naming. Later in the paper, the effects of holding the name will be discussed with more emphasis on how it affects the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states.
Several years ago, such names as “Near East” and ‘The West’ were given to the place currently known as the Middle East. Normally, geographical locations are used in defining and naming various regions. However, the naming of the Middle East has proved to be difficult even with geographical locations. Geographically, the Middle East is located in the Southwestern part of Asia and in the North Eastern side of Africa (Bilgin, 2004, p.27).
This area lies in between Europe and East Asia commonly referred to as the Far East. As such, it includes nations such as Cyprus, Gaza, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, and other nations in the Arabian Peninsula including Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, along with Yemen.
This list of countries making up the ‘Middle East’ is not conclusive because different writers and historians have different thoughts regarding the number of countries to be included in that list. For instance, some have included Egypt and Libya in the Middle East nations, while others have omitted these countries.
One would wonder why there has been the cause of disagreement in the term ‘Middle East’ for such a long time. As such, most international organizations have campaigned for the acceptance of the name ‘Middle East’ given its familiarity among people. On the other hand, there are those who claim that the name of the place is purely symbolic. Hence, another name should be adopted to replace the name ‘Middle East’.
The research done indicates that nations located in the Middle East suffer from economic and social effects because of the fact that the ‘Middle East’ is associated with the Arab World, as such, all countries that are united by one name are thought to be of the Arabic culture (Essaid, 2009, p.1).
Nevertheless, this is not true because there are other countries associated with the ‘Middle East’ but that are not of Arabic culture. It is interesting to note that the term is also misunderstood even by the people who are living in the region (Essaid, 2009, p.1).
Many writers and historians have tried to popularize the term ‘Middle East’ in a bid to have it globally accepted. Among numerous writers is Alfred Thayer whose article popularized ‘Middle East’ in the year 1902. His intention was strategic since most of the super power nations, such as Great Britain and the United States of America had refrained from supporting the ‘Middle East’ nations given the controversy in its name.
This impact can be evidenced even up to date. Before oil was recovered in the Middle East, the term had been used to refer to the region in the midway of the two important regions of the world. However, currently, the Middle East has been broadly redefined to include the Gulf Cooperation Council states, such as North Africa, Iraq, Iran, as well as Levant (Pappé, 2005).
This is the mostly understood and accepted definition of the term ‘Middle East’ as viewed by the western nations, political leaders, and international bodies. However, the naming of the Middle East has significantly affected the GCC nations in terms of the economic analysis. Most often than not, Middle East nations are now believed to start mingling with the Indian continent, thus, becoming an obstacle for those who want to do business with the GCC states.
It is clearly evidenced by the fact that the trade between GCC nations and Asia is far much better and beneficial than the trade with the Arab world. As such, the GCC nations can be considered as being part of the West Asia given the good relationship they have with India and China. Recent statistics shows that much of the energy used in China’s manufacturing firms originates from the GCC states (Molavi, 2011, p.1).
It can, therefore, be concluded that the name ‘Middle East’ should not be changed since it totally suits the region named. It is, nonetheless, expected that the nations located in the Middle East must be well defined, which will not only solve the controversy in the naming but it will also create an understanding of what it entails for the entire world.
Bilgin, P. (2004). Whose ‘Middle East’? Geopolitical Inventions and Practices of Security. International Relations, 18(1), 26-27.
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Essaid, A. (2009). What is the Middle East? Web.
Molavi, A. (2011). ‘Middle East’ is pulled towards Asia by economics and affinity. Web.
Pappé, I. (2005). The Modern Middle East. New York: Routledge.