In the 19th century, the Arab and Ottoman world became large-scale exporters of the raw materials wanted by industrialised European countries.
In the Middle East, as elsewhere, geographical and climatic conditions have always determined the production of specific raw materials in specific regions. In the 19th century, increasing European demand led Egypt and Palestine to intensify their cotton production, while Mount Lebanon specialised in the cultivation and spinning of silk, particularly for the French market. Tobacco, meanwhile, popular throughout the region as well as in Europe, was grown in greater Syria. From further afield, pearls and corals were among the luxury commodities sought after in Europe. Only a few raw materials were imported into the Arab and Ottoman world in turn, most importantly sugar and coffee. At the time, both were brought by European traders from the colonies of the West Indies. Of course, raw materials and livestock were also traded within and across the region.