What are some Middle East inventions that helped shape the world?

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By Euronews
Abbas Ibn Firnas, the first man to fly
Abbas Ibn Firnas, the first man to fly

Since the beginning of humankind, inventions have helped move civilizations forward, with many creations coming from Middle East and North Africa.

Here are a few design ideas that might have seemed outlandish at first, but led to discoveries that changed the way we live today.

Omani grammarian Al-Khalil al-Farahidi


The art of writing and deciphering hidden messages, known as cryptography, was practiced by pharaohs in ancient Egypt.

In the 8th century, Omani grammarian Al-Khalil al-Farahidi wrote the first book on cryptography. His theories gave way to today’s data encoding for cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and more.

First flight

In the 9th century, the first man to fly - at least for a few moments whilst wearing a bird costume - was Abbas Ibn Firnas . He was of Berber origin and born in Andalusia, Spain.

Ibn Firnas achieved this feat hundreds of years before the Italian artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying contraptions emerged, and the advent of the American Wright brothers’ airplane.

Turkish engineer and author Ismail al Jazari

The crankshaft

The Turkish engineer and author Ismail al Jazari, wrote The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices. He is also fondly referred to as one of the founding fathers of robotics.

Al Jazari invented the crankshaft in the 13th century, which put modern designs like the combustion engine of cars and other mechanisms in motion.


Tareq from the UAE designed this radio controlled helicopter for a competition in Kuwait.