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9 Things Arabs Are Most Proud Of

Picture of Jessica Harn
Updated: 20 November 2017
The Arabs are an ancient and traditional people who have a long and very colorful history of which to be proud. Many of our modern inventions, theories, and scientific discoveries are, in fact, from Arabs, and they won’t let you forget it. Here are just a few of the many things Arabs are most proud about, from their history to their culture.

The Banu Musa brothers’ Book of Ingenious Devices

Published in 850 AD, these three brothers from Baghdad made a sensation around the world with their combined expertise in mathematics and engineering and eventually published their monumental Book of Ingenious Devices. The book features illustrations of an enormous number of mechanical devices, mathematical tools, and even puzzles, delighting even the most serious of engineers.

Al-Zahrawi’s surgical tools for medicine

A pioneer in the field of surgery, Al-Zahrawi, who was a celebrated surgeon in 10th-century Cordoba, invented some of the most well-known surgical tools that doctors still use today. Some of his inventions include the syringe, the lithotomy scalpel, the surgical hook and needle, and the forceps.

Preserved written work by Al-Zahrawi, kept in the Institute of the Arab World in Morocco | © ActuaLitté / Flickr

The world’s first coffee

The Arabs will never let you forget this and are extremely proud that (arguably) the world’s very first coffee was brewed in Yemen as early as the 9th century. It was first brewed to keep Sufi mystics awake at night when wanting to stay up for devotion, with the coffee then later spreading to Cairo and then to Europe, where the rest, they say, is history.

Fatima Al-Firhi’s foundation of the world’s first university

The world’s very first degree-awarding university was, in fact, founded by a woman, Fatima Al-Firhi, in Fez, Morocco. Still open and running almost 1,200 years later, this is a monumental tribute to the power of women and to the power of education that can be appreciated by people across the world.

The first modern hospital in the world

The first modern hospital, with all of the wards and facilities that we associate today with a working medical center, was opened in 9th-century Cairo. Called the Ahmad Ibn Tulun Hospital, founded in 872 AD, it actually provided free medical care for anyone who needed it and eventually spread to other areas of the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

The Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque, still standing in Cairo, was built by him in the late 800s AD to stand opposite his free hospital | © Mark Fischer / Flickr

Al-Idrisi’s world atlas

Al-Idrisi, an Egyptian geographer living in 12th-century Sicily, was one of the most brilliant and sought-after map-makers in the world at the time. His now famous world atlas, commissioned by the Norman King Roger II, contained more than 70 maps of the world and was considered one of the best geographical maps of his time.

Ibn Battuta’s exploration of the unknown world

A favorite household name in the Arab world, Ibn Battuta was perhaps one of the most well-traveled explorers in world history. From Turkey to the Bulgarian Kingdom to Russia, from Persia to Central Asia to India, from China to North Africa to the Empires of West Africa, Ibn Battuta has inspired countless stories and movies and songs since the centuries after his death and travel writings.

Re-discovering the ancient classical works of philosophy, which eventually led to the Renaissance

Europeans had long forgotten the ancient classical philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus until Arab philosophers, such as Ibn Khaldun, began translating these great works. The Europeans who traveled eastward eventually discovered them and brought them back to Europe, which, then, ultimately helped start the Renaissance movement—thanks in part to the tireless translation by Arab philosophers of the time.

Modern tribute to Ibn Khaldun, pictured in Morocco | © mhobi /Flickr

Modern horticulture

The Arabs were some of the first people on earth to promote agriculture, and horticulture came second only naturally. The most famous book on horticulture at the time was by Ibn Al-Awam in the 12th century, Al Filahat; it documented more than 500 different species of plants and ways to plant and take care of them, which contributed to modern gardening, flower gardens, and herb growing.