The first part of this paper presents two contrary views on the Arab-Islamic culture : The first one claims the essential otherness of the Orient against the Occident, which causes the historian of cultures to focus more on differences than similarities between Arab-Islamic world, on one hand, and Europe which developed out of the Greek-Roman-Byzantine cultural traditions, on the other. In opposition, the other view stresses a poetic and mystical unity between the two cultural realms. According to this position, the spiritual aspects of Islam and the Orient are emphasized. In the second part, the author presents a new approach to deal with the Orient, based on conceptualizing predominant cultural phenomena which have direct impact on the life of societies. Through the investigation of the concept of time in the Qurʾān and influential Arab literary works, the paper attempts to demonstrate that questions about the relationship between cultures and peoples can be answered more accurately by analyzing the concepts which shape the mentality of the people.