Arab Americans

Last updated

Arab Americans
عرب أمريكيون
Total population
1,698,570(2010 Census) [1] 3,700,000(Arab American Institute 2016) [2]
1.12% of the total U.S. population (2016)
Regions with significant populations
Arabic  · American English  · French  · Spanish

Arab Americans (Arabic : عَرَبٌ أَمْرِيكِيُّونَ or أمريكيون عرب) are Americans of either Arab ethnic or cultural and linguistic heritage or identity, who identify themselves as Arab. Arab Americans trace ancestry to any of the various waves of immigrants of the countries comprising the Arab World.

Americans Citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

Culture Social behavior and norms found in society

Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization, mythology, philosophy, literature, and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.

In psychology, identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person (self-identity) or group. Categorizing identity can be positive or destructive.


According to the Arab American Institute (AAI), countries of origin for Arab Americans include Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. [3]

Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute is a non-profit membership organization based in Washington D.C. that focuses on the issues and interests of Arab-Americans nationwide. James Zogby, brother of pollster John Zogby, is founder and president of the AAI.

Algeria country in North Africa

Algeria, officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. The capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the far north of the country on the Mediterranean coast. With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, the world's largest Arab country, and the largest in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes (counties). It has the highest human development index of all non-island African countries.

Bahrain Sovereign island state in the Persian Gulf

Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, is an island country in the Persian Gulf. The sovereign state comprises a small archipelago centered around Bahrain Island, situated between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is connected by the 25-kilometre (16 mi) King Fahd Causeway. Bahrain's population is 1,234,571, including 666,172 non-nationals. It is 765.3 square kilometres (295.5 sq mi) in size, making it the third-smallest nation in Asia after the Maldives and Singapore.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 1,698,570 Arab Americans in the United States. [4] 290,893 persons defined themselves as simply Arab, and a further 224,241 as Other Arab. Other groups on the 2010 Census are listed by nation of origin, and some may or may not be Arabs, or regard themselves as Arabs. The largest subgroup is by far the Lebanese Americans, with 501,907, [1] followed by; Egyptian Americans with 190,078, Syrian Americans with 148,214, Iraqi Americans with 105,981, Moroccan Americans with 101,211, Palestinian Americans with 85,186, and Jordanian Americans with 61,664. Approximately 1/4 of all Arab Americans claimed two ancestries.

Lebanese Americans ethnic group

Lebanese Americans are Americans of Lebanese descent. This includes both those who are native to the United States as well as Lebanese immigrants to America.

Egyptian Americans are Americans of Egyptian ancestry. The 2016 US Census estimated the number of people with Egyptian ancestry at 256,000. Egyptian Americans may also include the Egyptian foreign-born population in the United States. The US Census Bureau estimated in 2016 that there were 181,677 foreign-born Egyptians in the United States. They represented around 0.4% of the total US foreign-born population as 42,194,354 first-generation immigrants in 2016.

Syrian Americans are Americans of Syrian descent or background. Syrian Americans may be members of a number of differing ethnicities, including Arabs, Armenians, Arameans, Assyrians, Syrian Jews, Kurds, Syrian Turkmens and Circassians. The first significant wave of Syrian immigrants to arrive in the United States began in the 1880s. Many of the earliest Syrian Americans settled in New York City, Boston, and Detroit. Immigration from Syria to the United States suffered a long hiatus after the United States Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which restricted immigration. More than 40 years later, the Immigration Act of 1965, abolished the quotas and immigration from Syria to the United States saw a surge. An estimated 64,600 Syrians immigrated to the United States between 1961 and 2000.

A number of peoples that may have lived in Arab countries and are now resident in the United States are not classified as Arabs, including Assyrians (aka Chaldo-Assyrians), Jews, Kurds, Iraqi Turkmens, Azeris, Mandeans, Circassians, Shabaki, Armenians, Turks, Georgians, Yazidis, Balochs, Iranians and Kawliya/Romani.

Assyrian people Ethnic group

Assyrian people, or Syriacs, are an ethnic group indigenous to Western Asia. Some of them self-identify as Arameans, or as Chaldeans. Speakers of modern Aramaic and as well as the primary languages in their countries of residence, modern Assyrians are Syriac Christians who claim descent from Assyria, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, dating back to 2500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia.

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

Kurds ethnic group in the Middle East

Kurds or the Kurdish people are a stateless Iranian ethnic group in Kurdistan. Geographically, those four adjacent and often-mountainous areas include southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria. There are also exclaves of Kurds in central Anatolia and Khorasan. Additionally, there are significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul, while a Kurdish diaspora has developed in Western Europe, primarily in Germany. Numerically, the Kurds are estimated to number anywhere from a low of 30 million, to possibly as high as 45 million.



Census Bureau 2000, Arabs in the United States.png
Arab ancestry Arab1346.png
Arab ancestry

The majority of Arab Americans, around 62%, originate from the region of the Levant, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, although overwhelmingly from Lebanon. The remainder are made up of those from Egypt, Somalia, Morocco, Iraq, Libya, the GCC and other Arab nations.

Levant Geographic and cultural region consisting of the eastern Mediterranean between Anatolia and Egypt

The Levant is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily in Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica.

Lebanon Country in Western Asia

Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland facilitated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity. At just 10,452 km2, it is the smallest recognized sovereign state on the mainland Asian continent.

State of Palestine De jure state in the Middle East

Palestine, officially the State of Palestine, is a de jure sovereign state in Western Asia claiming the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as the designated capital, although its administrative center is currently located in Ramallah. The entirety of territory claimed by the State of Palestine has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. Palestine has a population of 4,816,503 as of 2016, ranked 123rd in the world.

There are nearly 3.5 million Arab Americans in the United States according to The Arab American Institute. Arab-Americans live in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C., and 94% reside in the metropolitan areas of major cities. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city with the largest percentage of Arab Americans is Dearborn, Michigan, a southwestern suburb of Detroit, at nearly 40%. The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans (403,445), followed by the New York City Combined Statistical Area (371,233), Los Angeles (308,295), San Francisco Bay Area (250,000), Chicago (176,208), and the Washington D.C area. (168,208). [5] (Note: This information is reportedly based upon survey findings but is contradicted by information posted on the Arab American Institute website itself, which states that California as a whole only has 272,485, and Michigan as a whole only 191,607. The 2010 American Community Survey information, from the American Factfinder website, gives a figure of about 168,000 for Michigan.)

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Dearborn, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Dearborn is a city in the State of Michigan. It is located in Wayne County and is part of the Detroit metropolitan area. Dearborn is the eighth largest city in the State of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 98,153 and is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States. First settled in the late 18th century by ethnic French farmers in a series of ribbon farms along the Rouge River and the Sauk Trail, the community grew in the 19th century with the establishment of the Detroit Arsenal on the Chicago Road linking Detroit and Chicago. In the 20th century, it developed as a major manufacturing hub for the automotive industry.

Detroit Largest city in Michigan

Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2017 estimated population of 673,104, making it the 23rd-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.

Sorting by American states, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 48% of the Arab-American population, 576,000, reside in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, and New Jersey, respectively; these 5 states collectively have 31% of the net U.S. population. Five other states - Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania - report Arab-American populations of more than 40,000 each. Also, the counties which contained the greatest proportions of Arab-Americans were in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The cities with 100,000 or more in population with the highest percentages of Arabs are Sterling Heights, Michigan 3.69%; Jersey City, New Jersey 2.81%; Warren, Michigan 2.51%; Allentown, Pennsylvania 2.45%; Burbank, California 2.39% and nearby Glendale, California 2.07%; Livonia, Michigan 1.94%; Arlington, Virginia 1.77%; Paterson, New Jersey 1.77%; and Daly City, California 1.69%. [6] Bayonne, New Jersey, a city of 63,000, reported an Arab-American population of 5.0% in the 2010 US Census. [7]

Arab American´s ethnic groups

Arab Americans in the 2000 [8] - 2010 U.S. Census [9] [note 1]
Ancestry20002000 (% of US population)20102010 (% of US population)
Flag of Lebanon.svg Lebanese 440,2790.2%501,988%
Flag of Syria.svg Syrian 142,8970.1%148,214%
Flag of Egypt.svg Egyptian 142,8320.1%190,078%
Flag of Palestine.svg Palestinian 72,0960.04%93,438%
Flag of Jordan.svg Jordanian 39,7340.03%61,664%
Flag of Morocco.svg Moroccan 38,9230.03%82,073%
Flag of Iraq.svg Iraqi 37,7140.01%105,981%
Flag of Yemen.svg Yemeni 11,6540.005%29,358 [10] %
Flag of Algeria.svg Algerian 8,752%14,716%
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi 7,419%%
Flag of Tunisia.svg Tunisian 4,735%%
Flag of Kuwait.svg Kuwaiti 3,162 %%
Flag of Libya.svg Libyan 2,979%%
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Emirati 459%%
Flag of Oman.svg Omani 351%%
"North African"3,217%%
Other Arabs%224,241%

Arab Population by State

Arab population by state in the USA in 2010.

State/territory2010 American Census [11] PercentageArab American Institute (AAI)Percentage
Flag of Alabama.svg  Alabama 9,0570.18934,308 [12] No data
Flag of Alaska.svg  Alaska 1,3560.1914,464 [13] No data
Flag of Arizona.svg  Arizona 29,4740.46195,427 [14] No data
Flag of Arkansas.svg  Arkansas 5,0190.17214,472 [15] No data
Flag of California.svg  California 269,9170.616817,455 [16] No data
Flag of Colorado.svg  Colorado 27,5260.07451,149 [17] No data
Flag of Connecticut.svg  Connecticut 17,9170.50157,747 [18] No data
Flag of Delaware.svg  Delaware 1,0920.1229,000 [19] No data
Flag of Washington, D.C..svg  District of Columbia 4,8100.79910,821 [20] No data
Flag of Florida.svg  Florida 114,7910.610301,881 [21] No data
Flag of Georgia (U.S. state).svg Georgia 25,5040.26381,171 [22] No data
Flag of Hawaii.svg  Hawaii 1,6610.1224,983 [23] No data
Flag of Idaho.svg  Idaho 1,2000.0777,617 [24] No data
Flag of Illinois.svg  Illinois 87,9360.685256,395 [25] No data
Flag of Indiana.svg  Indiana 19,0490.29446,122 [26] No data
Flag of Iowa.svg  Iowa 6,4260.21117,436 [27] No data
Flag of Kansas.svg  Kansas 8,0990.28123,868 [28] No data
Flag of Kentucky.svg  Kentucky 10,1990.23528,542 [29] No data
Flag of Louisiana.svg  Louisiana 11,9960.26550,031 [30] No data
Flag of Maine.svg  Maine 3,1030.23413,224 [31] No data
Flag of Maryland.svg  Maryland 28,6230.49676,446 [32] No data
Flag of Massachusetts.svg  Massachusetts 67,6431.033195,450 [33] No data
Flag of Michigan.svg  Michigan 153,7131.555500,000 [34] No data
Flag of Minnesota.svg  Minnesota 22,4780.42460,663 [35] No data
Flag of Mississippi.svg  Mississippi 6,8230.23020,469 [36] No data
Flag of Missouri.svg  Missouri 18,1980.30451,869 [37] No data
Flag of Montana.svg  Montana 1,7710.1795,313 [38] No data
Flag of Nebraska.svg  Nebraska 6,0930.33425,227 [39] No data
Flag of Nevada.svg  Nevada 10,9200.40437,554 [40] No data
Flag of New Hampshire.svg  New Hampshire 6,9580.52925,068 [41] No data
Flag of New Jersey.svg  New Jersey 84,5580.962257,868 [42] No data
Flag of New Mexico.svg  New Mexico 7,7160.37513,632 [43] No data
Flag of New York.svg  New York 160,8480.830449,187 [44] No data
Flag of North Carolina.svg  North Carolina 33,2300.34891,788 [45] No data
Flag of North Dakota.svg   North Dakota 1,4700.1864,410 [46] No data
Flag of Ohio.svg  Ohio 65,0110.564197,439 [47] No data
Flag of Oklahoma.svg  Oklahoma 9,3420.249No dataNo data
Flag of Oregon.svg  Oregon 13,0550.34141,613 [48] No data
Flag of Pennsylvania.svg  Pennsylvania 63,2880.498182,610 [49] No data
Flag of Rhode Island.svg  Rhode Island 7,5660.71926,541 [50] No data
Flag of South Carolina.svg  South Carolina 9,1060.19732,223 [51] No data
Flag of South Dakota.svg  South Dakota 2,0340.2506,102 [52] No data
Flag of Tennessee.svg  Tennessee 24,4470.38571,025 [53] No data
Flag of Texas.svg  Texas 102,3670.407274,701 [54] No data
Flag of Utah.svg  Utah 5,5390.20017,556 [55] No data
Flag of Vermont.svg  Vermont 2,5830.4137,749 [56] No data
Flag of Virginia.svg  Virginia 59,3480.742169,587 [57] No data
Flag of Washington.svg  Washington 26,6660.3978,850 [58] No data
Flag of West Virginia.svg  West Virginia 6,3290.34216,581 [59] No data
Flag of Wisconsin.svg  Wisconsin 11,1380.19632,406 [60] No data
Flag of Wyoming.svg  Wyoming 3970.0701,191 [61] No data
USA1,646,3710.5333,700,000 [62] No data

Religious background

The religious affiliations of Arab Americans Arab American religions.png
The religious affiliations of Arab Americans

While the majority of the population of the Arab world is Muslim, most Arab Americans, in contrast, are Christian. [63]

According to the Arab American Institute, the breakdown of religious affiliation among persons originating from Arab countries is as follows:

The percentage of Arab Americans who are Muslim has increased in recent years because most new Arab immigrants tend to be Muslim. This stands in contrast to the first wave of Arab immigration to the United States between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when almost all immigrants were Christians. Most Maronites tend to be of Lebanese or Syrian; those Palestinians often Eastern Orthodox, otherwise Roman Catholic and a few Episcopalians. A small number are Protestant adherents, either having joined a Protestant denomination after immigrating to the U.S. or being from a family that converted to Protestantism while still living in the Middle East (European and American Protestant missionaries were fairly commonplace in the Levant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).

Arab Christians, especially from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, continue to immigrate into the U.S. in the 2000s and continue to form new enclaves and communities across the country. [64]

Arab-American identity

The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan celebrates the history of Arab Americans. Arab American National Museum.jpg
The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan celebrates the history of Arab Americans.
Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015. Downtown-paterson-nj2.jpg
Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015.

The United States Census Bureau is presently[ when? ] finalizing the ethnic classification of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) populations. This process does not pertain to Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and other religious adherents, whom the bureau tabulates as followers of a religion rather than members of an ethnic group. [66] In 2012, prompted in part by post-9/11 discrimination, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee petitioned the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency to designate the MENA populations as a minority/disadvantaged community. [67] Following consultations with MENA organizations, the Census Bureau announced in 2014 that it would establish a new MENA ethnic category for populations from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab world, separate from the "white" classification that these populations had previously sought in 1909. The expert groups, including some Jewish organizations, felt that the earlier "white" designation no longer accurately represents MENA identity, so they successfully lobbied for a distinct categorization. [68] [69]

As of December 2015, the sampling strata for the new MENA category includes the Census Bureau's working classification of 19 MENA groups, as well as Turkish, Sudanese, Djiboutian, Somali, Mauritanian, Armenian, Cypriot, Afghan, Iranian, Azerbaijani and Georgian groups. [70]

The Arab American Institute and other groups have noted that there was a rise in hate crimes targeting the Arab American community as well as people perceived as Arab/Muslim after the September 11 attacks and the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. [71]

A new Zogby Poll International found that there are 3.5 million Americans who were identified as "Arab-Americans", or Americans of ancestry belonging to one of the 23 UN member countries of the Arab World (these are not necessarily therefore Arabs). Poll finds that, overall, a majority of those identifying as Arab Americans are Lebanese Americans (largely as a result of being the most numerous group). The Paterson, New Jersey-based Arab American Civic Association runs an Arabic language program in the Paterson school district. [72] Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015. [65] Neighboring Clifton, New Jersey is following in Paterson's footsteps, with rapidly growing Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian American populations. [73]


In a 2007 Zogby poll, 62% of Arab Americans vote Democratic, while only 25% vote Republican. [74] The percentage of Arabs voting Democratic increased sharply during the Iraq War. However, a number of prominent Arab American politicians are Republicans, including former Oregon Governor Victor Atiyeh, former New Hampshire Senator John E. Sununu, and California Congressman Darrell Issa, who was the driving force behind the state's 2003 recall election that removed Democratic Governor Gray Davis from office. The first woman Supreme Court Chief Justice in Florida, Rosemary Barkett, who is of Syrian descent, is known for her dedication to progressive values.

Arab Americans gave George W. Bush a majority of their votes in 2000. However, they backed John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. They also backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

According to a 2000 Zogby poll, 52% of Arab Americans are pro-life, 74% support the death penalty, 76% are in favor of stricter gun control, and 86% want to see an independent Palestinian state. [75]

In a study, Arab Americans living in Detroit were found to have values more similar to that of the Arab world than those of the general population living in Detroit, on average, being more closely aligned to the strong traditional values and survival values. This was less the case when participants were secular, or belonged to second and subsequent generations. [76]

Non-Arab Americans from Arab countries

There are many U.S. immigrants from the Arab world who are not classified as Arabs. Among these are Armenian Americans, Kurdish Americans and Jewish Americans of Mizrahi origin. Some of these groups such as Assyrians and Chaldeans are Semites, while the vast majority of the rest are not Semites. It is very difficult to estimate the size of these communities. For example, some Armenians immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon, Syria, or Iraq. Estimates place these communities at least in the tens of thousands. [77] [78] [79] Other smaller communities include Assyrians (a.k.a. Chaldo-Assyrians), Berbers, Turkmen people, Mandeans, Circassians, Shabaki, Turks, Mhallami, Georgians, Yazidis, Balochs, Iranians, Azerbaijans and Kawliya/Roma.

Most of these ethnic groups speak their own native languages (usually another Semitic language related to Arabic) and have their own customs, along with the Arabic dialect from the Arab country they originate from. Aviva Uri, in her study of Mizrahi Jews in America, writes that "activists and writers in the United States, both gentile Arab and Jewish, are legitimizing through their various activities and publications the identity of Mizrahim as Arab Jews." [80]

Arab American Heritage Month

In 2014, Montgomery County, Maryland designated April as Arab American Heritage Month in recognition of the contributions that Arab Americans have made to the nation. [81] The first documentary on Arab Americans premiered on PBS in August of 2017, The Arab Americans features the Arab American immigrant story as told through the lens of American History and the stories of prominent Arab Americans such as actor Jamie Farr, Ralph Nader, Senator George Mitchell, White House Reporter Helen Thomas, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid, Danny Thomas actor and Founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, pollster and author John Zogby, Congressman Nick Rahall, racing legend Bobby Rahal. The documentary is produced and directed by Abe Kasbo.


While the spectrum of Arab heritage includes 22 countries, their combined heritage is often celebrated in cultural festivals around the United States.

New York City

The Annual Arab-American & North African Street Festival was founded in 2002 by the Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY (NAAP-NY). [82] Located in downtown Manhattan, on Great Jones Street between Lafayette & Broadway, the Festival attracts an estimated 15,000 people, in addition to over 30 Arab and North African vendors along with an all-day live cullltural performance program representing performers from across the Arab world.

The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival was founded in 2003 by comedian Dean Obeidallah and comedian Maysoon Zayid. Held annually each fall, the festival showcases the talents of Arab-American actors, comics, playwrights and filmmakers, and challenges as well as inspires fellow Arab-Americans to create outstanding works of comedy. Participants include actors, directors, writers and comedians. [83]


Of particular note is ArabFest in Seattle, begun in 1999. The festival includes all 22 of the Arab countries, with a souk marketplace, traditional and modern music, an authentic Arab coffeehouse, an Arabic spelling bee and fashion show. Lectures and workshops explore the rich culture and history of the Arab peoples, one of the world's oldest civilizations. Also of new interest is the Arabic rap concert, including the NW group Sons of Hagar, showcasing the political and creative struggle of Arabic youth. [84]

Arab American Festival - Arizona Arab american festival 2008.jpg
Arab American Festival – Arizona

In 2008, the first annual Arab American Festival in Arizona was held on 1 and 2 November in Glendale, Arizona. There were more than 40,000 attendees over the two-day event; more than 35 international singers, dancers and musicians from all over the Arab World performed 20 hours of live entertainment on stage. Activities included folklore shows, an international food court, hookah lounge, kids rides and booth vendors, open to the public, and admission was free. [85]


The Annual Arab American Day Festival is a three-day cultural and entertainment event held in Orange County. Activities include book and folk arts exhibitions, speeches from community leaders in the county, as well as music and poetry, dancing singing, traditional food, hookah and much more. [86]


Since 1996, Milwaukee's Arab World Fest has been part of the summer festival season. It is held during the second weekend of August. This three day event hosts music, culture and food celebrating the 22 Arab countries. The festival features live entertainment, belly dancing, hookah rental, camel rides, cooking demonstrations, a children's area and great Arab cuisine. It is a family friendly festival on Milwaukee's lakefront. [87]

Notable people

Here are a few examples of famous Arab Americans and Americans with partial Arab ancestry in a variety of fields.

See also


  1. In this list are not included Sudanese since, in 2000 and 2010, Sudan and South Sudan were yet one country and yet we only have quantitative data from these groups together. Only the people of Northern Sudan are Arabs, but most Sudanese Americans hailed from the South Sudan. The 2000 - 2010 US Census indicate not the number of Americans of Sudanese (excluding South Sudanese) origin or descent.

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Arab immigration to the United States begins in the 19th century, with the first voluntary immigrant Anthony Bishallany emigrating from the Greater Syria/Mount Lebanon region of the Ottoman Empire in 1854. Since the first major wave of Arab immigration in the late 19th century, the majority of Arab immigrants have settled in or near large cities. Roughly 94 percent of all Arab immigrants live in metropolitan areas, with the top five being Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. While most Arabic-speaking Americans have similarly settled in just a handful of major American cities, they form a fairly diverse population representing nearly every country and religion from the Arab world. These figures aside, recent demographics suggest a shift in immigration trends. While the earliest ways of Arab immigrants were predominantly Christian, since the late 1960s an increasing proportion of Arab immigrants are Muslim. Arab immigration has, historically, come in waves. Many came for entrepreneurial reasons, and during the latter waves some came as a result of struggles and hardships stemming from specific periods of war or discrimination in their respective mother countries.

Palestinian Americans, are Americans descended from the Palestinian people. It is unclear when the first Palestinian immigrants arrived into the United States. Later immigrants came to the country fleeing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Middle Eastern Americans are Americans with ancestry, origins, or citizenship from the Middle East.

Within Metro Detroit, as of the census of 2010, there were 5,196,250 people, 1,682,111 households, and 1,110,454 families residing within the MSA. [citation needed]The census reported 70.1% White, 22.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 3.3% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.2% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.2% of the population. Arab Americans were at least 4.7% of the region's population. The region's foreign-born population sat at 8.6%.

History of the Middle Eastern people in Metro Detroit

In 2004, Metro Detroit had one of the largest settlements of Middle Eastern people, including Jews, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Arabs, in the United States. As of 2007 about 300,000 people in Southeastern Michigan traced their descent from the Middle East. Dearborn's sizeable Arab community consists largely of Lebanese and many Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac who immigrated for jobs in the auto industry in the 1920s, and of more recent Yemenis and Iraqis. In 2010 the four Metro Detroit counties had at least 200,000 people of Middle Eastern origin, excluding Jews. Bobby Ghosh of TIME said that some estimates gave much larger numbers. From 1990 to 2000 the percentage of people speaking Arabic in the home increased by 106% in Wayne County, 99.5% in Macomb County, and 41% in Oakland County.

Yemeni Americans are Americans of Yemeni ancestry. According to an estimate of 2010, more than 20,000 Yemenis live in the United States.


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Further reading


Arab American organizations