Special Fruits in the Middle East Posted by on Oct 9, 2019 in Arabic Language, Culture, food, Language

In this post, we’ll be learning a little about five of the common fruits فاكِهة grown in the Middle East, how to say them in Arabic, their significance أهَمية, and what they symbolize يَرمُز .

Image provided by Yasmine K.

Figs  تِّين  teen

Figs have been growing in the Middle East since pre-historic times. According to the Quran, fruits like figs, dates, olives and pomegranates are considered gifts and heavenly fruits of God due to their medicinal advantages. The first Quranic verse in (chapter) Surat At-Tīn (The Fig) – سورة التّين, says: (95:1) وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ “By the fig and the olive”. One interpretation is that it is an oath to the same two fruits that contain the extraordinary nutritive and creative properties. There are of course, other interpretations.

Dates  تَمْر  temir

Despite the Middle Eastern climate in some parts being that of intense heat, dryness and little rain, dates seem to be one of the most successful of fruits due to their compatibility with the climate. They have immense health benefits and are enjoyed mostly throughout the holy month of Ramadan. It is believed that prophet Mohammed broke his fast with three dates and water. Fasting lasts for many hours and the body can develop headaches and low blood sugar. Dates are an excellent source of fiber and sugar helping the body regain energy.

Olives زَّيْتُون  zaytoon

Olives have had religious significance in the Middle East for thousands of years. Olives, olive oil, olive trees and olive branches are mentioned many times in the Bible and the Quran. For Palestinians in particular, the olive tree is not only cherished for its importance as a major economic crop, but also for its historical and political presence. Olives are eaten with almost every meal in the Middle East, sometimes even at breakfast. Olive oil is eaten with zaatar زَعتَر and used generously for cooking or drizzling over hummus and other Mediterranean dips.

Pomegranate رُمَّان  rumman

It is considered the fruit of paradise and has various health benefits. Ancient Egyptians regarded the fruit as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. In the Middle East, the juice of the pomegranate can be bought from vendors and is also used to make jams, sauces, and syrups. Pomegranate is mentioned in the Quran three times: One example is Surah Ar-Rahman, (55:68) فِيهِمَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَنَخْلٌ وَرُمَّانٌ “In the two Gardens there shall be fruits and date-palms and pomegranates.” One interpretation says that there is an abundance of fruits, which are those like dates and pomegranates in the two gardens.

Apricots مِشْمِش  mishmish

When Arabs think of apricots, they think of Damascus, Syria where the variety of apricots most suitable for the drink Qamar al-Din قَمر الدّين (literally “Moon of the Religion”) was first grown. قَمر الدّين is a thick apricot drink enjoyed mostly during Ramadan. There is even a Turkish idiom “bundan iyisi Şam’da kayısı” literally meaning, “The only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus.” In other words, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”.

I hope you found this interesting. Usually Arabic learners learn how to say common fruits such as apple and banana, so I thought learning the names of more unique fruits would be nice. 🙂

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About the Author: yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.


  1. Lotus:

    I love all the posts! Thank you 🙂

    • Omar jaber:

      @Lotus I just want to say thank you so much for your support we love what you are doing as a Palestinian and an Arab american I so proud of you and your family members and just wants to say we can’t thank you enough