The Middle East is a region that roughly encompasses Western Asia. The term is considered to be Eurocentric and used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East. The corresponding adjective is Middle-Eastern and the derived noun is Middle-Easterner. The largest ethnic group in the middle east are Arabs, with Turks, Turkomans, Persians, Kurds, Azeris, Copts, Jews, Maronites, Assyro-Chaldeans, Circassians, Armenians, Druze and numerous other ethnic groups forming other significant populations.
The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, and throughout its history, the Middle East has been a major center of world affairs. When discussing ancient history, however, the term Near East is more commonly used. The Middle East is also the historical origin of major religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as the less common Baha'i faith, Mandaeism, Druze faith and others. The Middle East generally has an arid and hot climate, with several major rivers providing for irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas, especially in Mesopotamia and the rest of the Fertile Crescent. Many countries located around the Persian Gulf have large quantities of crude oil, which has resulted in much wealth particularly for nations in the Arabian peninsula. In modern times the Middle East remains a strategically, economically, politically, culturally and religiously sensitive region.
A dust storm or sand storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Particles are transported by saltation and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another. The Sahara and drylands around the Arabian peninsula are the main terrestrial sources of airborne dust, with some contributions from Iran, Pakistan and India into the Arabian Sea, and China's significant storms deposit dust in the Pacific. It has been argued that recently, poor management of the Earth's drylands, such as neglecting the fallow system, are increasing dust storms from desert margins and changing both the local and global climate, and also impacting local economies. The term sandstorm is used most often in the context of desert sandstorms, especially in the Sahara, or places where sand is a more prevalent soil type than dirt or rock, when, in addition to fine particles obscuring visibility, a considerable amount of larger sand particles are blown closer to the surface. The term dust storm is more likely to be used when finer particles are blown long distances, especially when the dust storm affects urban areas.