Is Indian culture more similar to the Middle East or to East Asia?

Answer by Raakhee Venugopal:

Thank you for the A2A.

Having lived in the middle east for the major part of my life, I’d say that though they are not entirely alike, there are many aspects of Middle Eastern culture that are strikingly similar to Indian culture.

Masala tea / Karak

Our masala tea and the middle eastern karak is so similar that it takes a well-trained tongue to know the difference.

Both are sweet and heavily spiced and kicks your senses into top-gear after the first sip 😀

Kajal / Kohl


An Indian woman’s shringaar (adornments) are considered to be incomplete without the application of kajal. Ditto with the Arab women here. They way they doll up their eyes with kohl is nothing less of legendary. Among a lot of women who belong to conservative families, the eyes are the only parts of the body that is visible to the rest of the world and they go all out to make them look ravishing.


Biryani / Machboos

Our beloved biryani, their beloved machboos. It’s obvious that they are from the same family of dishes…cousins, perhaps! 😀 They look strikingly similar and the only difference is that biryani has a lot more spices as compared to machboos.

Traditional values

Traditional Arab culture prohibits girls from wandering outside alone after sunset. Back-chatting with elders was severely apprehended.Marriages were arranged by family elders. The henna function is held with a lot of gusto. At weddings, the bride was expected not to smile or talk too much and to maintain a bowed head & demure look all through the function.

Sounds familiar? 😉


Arabs and Indians together would probably account for being the world’s biggest gold hoarders. The obsession with the yellow metal is one that goes back to centuries and both cultures take a lot of pride in their gold ‘reserves’.

Spicy food

Our dishes are strikingly similar especially with regard to the abundance of masalas or baharaat as they call them in Arabic. An Arab friend who travels a lot told me that whenever she is in a foreign country, the first thing she does in look for an Indian restaurant. ‘It’s the only place where we can order something and know exactly what to expect. And it feels like home-made food anyway’, she said. Did you know samosas originated from the Arab world? 😀 Ta-da!

I’ll add more to this list when I remember something new. 🙂

Is Indian culture more similar to the Middle East or to East Asia?


One Comment Add yours

  1. A.K. Maleeke says:

    I’m Arab from Yemen – I find soo many similarities with the food and culture (especially part about gold)lol. I think much more related to Middle East.


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