In the 19th century, the Arab and Ottoman world increasingly supplied Western Europe with raw materials – particularly cotton, silk, pearls, tobacco and cereals – while the latter targeted Arab and Ottoman markets with an ever-growing supply of manufactured products and colonial commodities such as sugar and coffee. In the process, traditional economic patterns throughout the Middle East started to change. Several regions now intensified their production of those commodities most desired in Europe, while traditional industries started to decline as their products could no longer compete with the machine-made and mass-produced European imports. While cross-Mediterranean trade accelerated ever more rapidly, the great majority of trading activity still continued to take place across different parts of the Ottoman Empire, Arab lands and beyond.
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Raw materials
Finished products
Wadi el-Tuffah

Published 1881–1884

Sharjah Art Museum / Sharjah Museums Department, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (Sharjah)

J. Harley (after a drawing by Harry Fenn 1838–1911)

Coloured wood engraving

During the 19th century, the most profitable period for the export to Europe of cotton cultivated in Anatolia, the Levant (north Palestine, north Syria) and Egypt was the 1860s, when because of the American Civil War (1861–65) European imports of American cotton were cut off.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Trading routes
Important trading hubs
Financing trade