7 Middle Eastern Books to Get to Know Arabic Culture

Are you planning to visit the UAE soon? Do you plan to stop by the Mohammed Bin Rashid library or dine in one of Dubai’s best book cafes? If you answered yes to all of these questions, what better way to prepare for your trip than immersing yourself in a good book that will give you a dose of Arabic aesthetic and vibes before you even arrive at your destination? 

These book recommendations will intensify your excitement about visiting Dubai or any middle eastern country in general; you’ll want to experience firsthand the Arab culture and tradition and taste the mouthwatering Arabic foods. If you’re not yet planning to visit any middle eastern countries, it’ll whet your appetite to take a flight!

One Thousand and One Nights

Suppose you want to dig deeper into Arabic culture. In that case, you can look no further by reading one of the classics and its famous One Thousand and One Nights, a.k.a. Arabian nights short stories collection compiled during the Islamic Golden Age. You can go to any bookstore near you and look for this book.

This book will take you to different parts of the middle east, from ancient Persia to Turkey. You’ll recall a few familiar stories from the book, such as Aladdin and Sinbad the sailor. Reading this classic will give you a non-overwhelming introduction to what the middle eastern culture is like, and you’ll love reading various stories with different moral lessons; it will take you on a magical carpet ride with every page you turn!


1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

If you’re a massive fan of literature, then you have probably heard about the award-winning novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book will take you to the historical events that happened in Afghanistan from the 1960s to the early 2000s. It’s a story about immigration, friendship, betrayal, hope, destruction, and more.

The story revolves around the friendship between a rich boy and the son of his father’s servant. This novel will deeply move you and teach you a lot of lessons about life. Khaled wrote this novel after the Taliban banned kites in Kabul; what started as a short story became one of the bestselling novels. 


2. The Sand Fish by Maha Gargash

A Dubai-based novel that will take you to the early beginnings of Dubai before it even became the luxurious and cosmopolitan city we all know now. This book tells the story of a young woman named Noora and her life as a bedouin living in the mountains.

It also tackles the pearl fishing livelihood Dubai has known before. You will find yourself rooting for the main character as she navigates her life, and it’s a coming-of-age story that will make you learn more about the rich history of Dubai and the life of a Bedouin. This book will teach you a thing or two about the rich old Emirati culture.


Temporary people by Deepak Unnikishnan


Moving to the future of what we know, the UAE is now a bustling country; thanks to Dubai’s booming tourism and business sector, many expats from around the world have called the gulf country their home. Gulf kids will relate reading to this book; whether you’re unfamiliar with life in the Gulf, then this book will enlighten you on what expat life is like in the UAE.

If you’re an OFW who is missing life in the Gulf, then reading this book will make you feel nostalgic. This award-winning short story collection will open your eyes to being an expat; whether you plan to visit the UAE or work as a freelancer then, this book will give you a peek behind the glitz and glam.



We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Fantasy lovers will love reading this ancient Arabia -based novel, and We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal will take you on a roller coaster ride; it’s a retelling of the English folklore Robin Hood! This book is part of the Sands of Arawiya duology, and it is all about finding yourself, being fearless, and going on adventures. Reading this ancient Arab-inspired novel will constantly make you turn the page as you go deeper into the story!


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

You’ll not regret taking a chance to read this retelling of the famous short story collection, Arabian nights, specifically the story of Scheherazade. It’s a story filled with adventures, romance, violence, and more! If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or action-filled love stories, then this book may be your cup of tea! This book is part of a series. 


Parwana: Recipes and stories from an Afghan kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi 


What better way to get to know a culture than through its food? If you’re a foodie keen on trying out new recipes, then you can cook up Afghan dishes from the cookbook Parwana where it’s not just filled with mouthwatering recipes but heartwarming stories that will make you crave for more.

Whether you’re not yet visiting any middle eastern countries anytime soon, you can get a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine by reading this cookbook! 


The Greater Freedom: Life as a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes by Alya Mooro

This book will give you a glimpse of how middle eastern women are thriving to break the glass ceiling amidst societal expectations, pressure, and what it really means to be a middle eastern woman. It is part memoir of the author Alya Mooro and part societal commentary. You’ll find yourself enlightened about middle eastern culture and traditions with this book.


Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab world edited by Zahra Hankir

This book is for essay enthusiasts and tackles serious and sensitive issues that middle eastern women face as a journalist. It will open your eyes to different perspectives about journalism, wars, and being an Arab woman. It will enlighten you on the power of press freedom, privileges, and the scrutiny Arab women face working in the media.