During the 19th century, many Middle Eastern and European towns turned into crucial strategic hubs due to their location at the crossroads of trade routes connecting land and sea.
In the course of the 19th century, many inland towns and cities in the Middle East and Europe grew into major economic and industrial as well as political and intellectual hubs at the crossroads of trade routes connecting land and sea. Several expanded considerably due to a steady influx of economic migrants and traders. On the other hand, formerly prosperous centres could also decline because of wars, the detrimental impact of mass-produced goods on traditional local industries and crafts or the redirection of trade routes. Cities maintained rapidly expanding lines of communication with strategic ports and the surrounding countryside, both of which supplied essential food stuffs, raw materials and, increasingly foreign, consumer goods. While the international trade from Middle Eastern ports was often dominated by non-Muslims and foreigners, the trade to and throughout the interior – which continued to far outweigh the former in terms of volume – was largely overseen by Muslim merchants.