The crossroads of the world
The term 'Middle East' was coined in England in the nineteenth century to describe a specific and strategically important area of the world. However, this continent spanning region is only in the middle of the east from the vantage of Western Europe. To many people, the 'Middle East' is the center of the world. And understandably so. The region is home to many of the oldest cities in the world, and has long stood at the cross roads of trade routes and civilizations. Many of the most influential forces in world history- forces as varying as armies, religions, and algebra- have come out of the Middle East. Memory is long here, and many of these millennia old cultural and religious traditions are still very much alive. This does not mean that the Middle East is stuck in the past. The Middle East continues to play a central role on the world's political and cultural stage. While this does unfortunately often mean fierce conflicts, it also- and just as frequently- means the creation of unparalleled wonders, such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Egypt, the megaclubs of Tel Aviv, and the futuristic cities of the United Arab Emirates.