Historical evidence shows Egyptian tomb paintings dating as far back as the fourteenth century BC that depict dancers whose callisthenic positions appear to be very similar to those used in belly dancing. The origins of belly dancing, though unclear, can be traced to the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Africa. In fact, in the Arabic language, the term belly dancing is Raqs Sharqi and claimed to be of Egyptian origins. In Turkish, it is Oryantal dansi meaning “exotic oriental dance”.
Belly Dancing also has been depicted in Persian miniature painting from the 12th and 13th centuries. The popularized connotation between belly dancing and exotic harem is due largely to Romanticism movement in the 18th and 19th century as artists depicted their interpretation of harem life of the Ottoman Empire. However, for Saudi women, the dance itself was considered sacred and not intended to be seen by men at all.