What’s the hook on hookah? Originating in Persia, hookah was introduced to the Middle East where it became an integral part of their culture and traditions. Smoking became popular among Indian noblemen, and Middle Easterners saw the introduction of the hookah as a healthier option to growing smoking concerns. Middle Easterners claimed the smoke was purified by passing through water before it was inhaled. Hookah soon became the favored option for the Indian aristocracy and was seen as the ultimate status symbol.