Arabs and skin color

I’ve allways thought of people from the Middle East, as having darker skin than whites, but lighter than blacks, and having, what’s described as, non western facial features. Yet, with all the coverage about the up comming war I’ve been watching on the news, I’ve seen lots of people from Middle Eastern countries, and plenty of them look white/Western/European (I just found out that all of them are technically concidered caucasion.)
So, what’s the difference between Middle Eastern people who look, what could be described as, traditionally Arab, and Middle Easter people who have white skin and look western, or European? Are the darker skinned Arabs decendents of other Arabs, and the whites decendent from Europeans? Or the darker skinned Arabs the result of interacial relationships between Arabs and people from Africa or India? Or the white skinned Middle Easterners the result of interacial relationships between Europeans and Arabs, or…
No reason for this question, other than curiosity. Thanks.

Nope, not particularly. Arabs from Arabia for the most part don’t look all that different from your average Italian, Spaniard, or Greek far as I can tell. Skin tone varies a fair bit, but as you noted can be quite pale ( especially if they have less exposure to the sun - see pictures some of the Gulf royals for examples ). So no, there is not necessarily a corollary with caucasian features and intermixture with Europeans.

The further you get from northern climes, the darker skin tone does tends to get, so you will see some darker tones as you move roughly south ( and to some extent east ). But generally speaking even the old classical divisions of humans into three or five races tended to classify folks from the Middle East as simply caucasian. The history of human migration being as complex as it is, its probably pretty hard to say how much typically caucasian or non-caucasian features are present as the result of population admixture and migration ( and with whom - especially in a historically cosmopolitan hub like the MENA ) vs. simple genotypic plasticity and environmental pressure. But generally the selective pressures for phenotype seem to be very roughly the same all around the Mediterranean Basin and some immediately adjacent areas ( like Arabia ), whether it be North Africa or Southern Europe.

You will see fewer nordic blond types of course ( though there are some ). But for example even in ancient times, I understand the Berbers of the Rif mountains in northern Morocco had a reputation for producing redheads.

  • Tamerlane

i think a lot of the misconceptions arise from not having seen many people from around the mediterranean.

you’d be hard pressed to tell a greek from an italian, from a maltese, from a cypriot, from a turk, from an isreali, from a palestinian, from a saudi.

2 of my good friends are kuwaitis, one has green eyes and pale skin, the other has arab features, but is lighter skinned than me.

BTW i’m not a red-haired, freckled colleen.

there has been a HELL of a lot of ethnic mixing in this area in the last 3000 years.

Well, even though Italians are white, aren’t there plenty that are, what I’ve heard described as olive colored?
But anyway, back to the Middle East, what I’m hearing is that the darker skinned Arabs tend to live in the more Southern countries, and there’s no defining factor for whether or not somebody will have typically Arab features or not.

My students range from green-eyed light-skinned people who look French (to me at least) (Perhaps there was a Crussader in the woodpile.) to Badar who is as black as coal.

All are Saudis and all are Arabs. It does show you the term is pretty well meaningless in biological sense.

Yes there is at least petty racism here. Really a shame since it is most un-Islamic.

The Arabic Empire (whatever you want to call it), was a great trade and cultural crossroads, and one of the heirs of Rome. It only makes sense that modern Arabs are genetically cosmopolitan.

I have met only three Syrians. All three looked very white. I don’t know much else about Syria first hand, but all the political eladers I have seen from there also look very white. Since Syria is a short boat ride from much of Europe, this shouldn’t be surprising.

Even knowing that many Arabs are rather pale skinned, I was rather surprised to see Iraqi’s Vice President with flaming red hair on TV.

Ezzat Ibrahim

Actually, in Neolithic and Ancient times, there were huge migrations from the Middle East into Europe and not the other way around. It is a bit Eurocentric of us to assume “he looks like a white guy; there must be a European in his gene pool”. Many “white” features are in fact derived from outside of Europe, as Europeans are largely the descendants of waves of people who came out of Asia and Africa in the last 10,000 years. The Basques are the remnants of the older European peoples.