Throughout the Mediterranean, you will find rice dishes like, Paella; Mujadra (lentils and rice); or Hashweh (Beef and rice), that are certainly more of a meal. Rice has the role of forming the filling in many dishes, making the meat and vegetables stretch. https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/middle-eastern-roasted-vegetable-rice Middle Eastern rice is always prepared fluffy, never sticky like risotto or sushi rice. https://www.food.com/recipe/middle-eastern-raisin-rice-257813 But this Lebanese rice with vermicelli is the every-day rice of the Middle East, and it's by far the most served side dish in that part of the world. But in many Middle Eastern cultures, rice is as important as bread, taking the position as the most important grain.