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This article is about the Mashriq region. For other uses, see Mashriq (disambiguation)
The Mashriq (Arabic: مشرق, also transcribed Mashreq, Mashrek etc.) is, generally speaking, the region of Arab countries to the east of Egypt and north of the Arabian Peninsula, i.e., Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria. It is derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q (ش ر ق) relating to the east or the sunrise, and essentially means "east" (most literally or poetically, "place of sunrise"). It refers to a large area in the Middle East, bounded between the Mediterranean Sea and Iran. It is therefore the companion term to Maghreb (مغرب), meaning "west" (a reference to the Arabic-speaking countries in the west of North Africa). Egypt occupies an ambiguous position: while it has cultural, ethnic and linguistic ties to both the Mashriq and the Maghreb, it is unique and different from both. Therefore, Egypt is located at the center/heart of the Arab world and that is why the headquarter of the Arab League is located in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Thus, it is usually seen as being part of neither; however, when it is grouped with one or the other, it is generally considered part of the Mashriq on account of its closer ties to the Levant (Egypt and the Levant were often ruled as a single unit, as under the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom, the Umayyad Caliphate, Abbasid Caliphate, the Fatimid Caliphate, the Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, and for a time under Muhammad Ali Pasha) and similarity between the Egyptian and nearby Levantine dialects. These geographical terms date from the early Islamic conquests.
This region is somewhat synonymous with Bilad al-Sham, but also includes Iraq and Kuwait. In the Maghreb the term invariably serves to denote the "non-Maghreb" Arab lands and, so doing, includes Egypt, Sudan, and the Arabian Peninsula. Mashriq is home to 1% of the global population as of 2010.
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