What Does It Mean To Be Arab?

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12152

What is your ethnicity? Do people (including you) have certain impressions and even concerns about "your" people? Investigate the Arab and Muslim people and learn the importance of cultural identity!


World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Events of recent decades have brought much attention to the Arab peoples, with much information and misinformation. Who are the Arabs, and what countries do they live in?

The events of the past few decades have made the Arabs one of the most well-known ethnic groups in the world.

Well, they are well-known but, in many ways, barely understood. In order to learn more about the Arabs, it would be useful to know who they are.

  • Who exactly is counted as an Arab?

As with many ethnic groups, there is no easy answer to the question.

Read Encyclopædia Britannica's Arab on the meaning of the word, “Arab.” As you read, write down answers to the following questions:

  • What may have been the origin of the word, “Arab”?
  • What are some defining factors for who gets to be called Arab?
  • Is being Arab simply a matter of physical traits? Why or why not?

Now, read the short article, The Arab people, courtesy of al-bab.com. Share your answers with your parent or teacher, then reflect on the following questions and discuss them together:

  • What is ethnicity?
  • What ethnic group or groups do you belong to?
  • How do you know?

The question of ethnicity is complicated, mainly because ethnicity is made up of a whole bunch of different parts, including language, culture, religion, and other things. Many times, the Arabs are confused with Muslims.

As you will discover in the following Got It? section, most Arabs are Muslim, but most Muslims are not Arab!

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