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   CELEBRATING ETHNICITY: ARAB AMERICANS

DETROIT: Arab International Festival

Arab Americans: Detroit


The Detroit area is home to more than 200,000 Arab Americans, one of the largest ethnic enclaves in the United States. Although they trace their ancestry to the Arab world, the origins and religious affiliations of members of this oldest community, whose history spans more than a century of immigration and settlement in America, are diverse by ethnicity— Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis and Yemeni; and religion— Eastern rite Catholic Chaldeans, Maronites, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians, and Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Nineteenth-century immigrants from Syria and Lebanon were the first to arrive. With the increased demand for automobiles and the steel to build cars at the beginning of the twentieth century, more immigrants from the Middle East came to work in Detroit’s many factories. By 1916, the Ford motor company counted 555 Arab men among its workforce. One of the first mosques in America was established in Highland Park in 1919. While the relationship between Arab immigrants and auto manufacturing endures, Arab Americans permeate across the professions, are highly educated, and have emerged as consummate entrepreneurs. Next to Ford’s famous River Rouge plant stands Dearborn’s “Arab village” where the annual weekend long Arab International Festival takes place.

LOS ANGELES: Arab-American Day LA

Arab Americans: Los Angeles


A vibrant pan-Arab celebration in southern California featuring Arabic cuisine, music and dance. The festival-goers hail from countries that span North Africa from Morocco to Egypt and extend across the Middle East from Lebanon to the nations of the Arabian Peninsula. With the momentous and historic changes sweeping their ancestral homelands, Arab Americans have raised their voices in response to the raging civil war in Syria, the movement toward Palestinian statehood, and the backlash encountered in the post-9/11 era.

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