Arab diaspora refers to Arab immigrants, and their descendants who, voluntarily or as refugees, emigrated from their native lands and now reside in non-Arab countries, primarily in Latin America, and Europe, as well as North America and South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and West Africa.
According to the International Organization for Migration, there are 13 million, of which 5.8 million reside in Arab countries. Arab expatriates contribute to the circulation of financial and human capital in the region and thus significantly promote regional development. In 2009 Arab countries received a total of 35.1 billion USD in remittance in-flows and remittances sent to Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon from other Arab countries are 40 to 190 per cent higher than trade revenues between these and other Arab countries.
Large numbers of Arabs migrated to West Africa, particularly Côte d'Ivoire (home to over 100,000 Lebanese), Senegal (roughly 30,000 Lebanese), Sierra Leone (roughly 10,000 Lebanese today; about 30,000 prior to the outbreak of civil war in 1991), Liberia, and Nigeria. Since the end of the civil war in 2002, Lebanese traders have become re-established in Sierra Leone.
Arab traders have long operated in Southeast Asia, trading in spices, timber and textiles. But an important trading minority in the region that goes largely unrecognised comprises the local descendants of Arabs. Most of the prominent Indonesians, Malaysians, and Singaporeans of Arab descent have their origins in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, especially the coastal Hadhramaut region of Yemen and Oman. They are the Hadramis. As many as four million Indonesians are of Hadrami descent, and today there are almost 10,000 Hadramis in Singapore.
The Americas have long been a destination for Arab migration, with Arabs arriving in some countries at least as early as the nineteenth century, but even as early as 1492 with several Moors among Christopher Columbus' crew. According to Saudi Aramco World, the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Arab World is in Brazil, which has 9 million Brazilians of Arab ancestry. Of these 9 million Arabs, seven million are of Lebanese ancestry, making Brazil's population of Lebanese greater than that of Lebanon itself. Most other Brazilians of Arab descent are mainly Syrian. There are also large Arab communities in Mexico (about 400,000 Mexicans of Lebanese descent), Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Palestinians cluster in Chile and Central America, particularly El Salvador, and Honduras (between 150,000 and 200,000). The 500,000 strong Palestinian community in Chile is the fourth largest in the world after those in Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. Arab Haitians (a large number of whom live in the capital) are more often than not, concentrated in financial areas where the majority of them establish businesses. In the United States, there are around 3.5 million people of Arab ancestry. Most Arabs of the Americas are of either Lebanese, Syrian, or Palestinian ancestry. The Lebanese minority in America are mostly Christian, with sizable Muslim, and Jewish minorities.
The Lebanese diaspora, while historically trade-related, has been linked more recently to the Lebanese Civil War, and the 2006 Lebanon War. In October 2006, shortly after the 2006 Second Lebanon War had concluded, the Edinburgh Middle East Report ran an article covering the brain drain from Lebanon's universities. Increasing numbers of Lebanese students are travelling abroad to further their education in safer environments.
As of June 21, 2007, the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees estimated that over 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, with up to 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month. As a result of growing international pressure, on June 1, 2007 the Bush administration said it was ready to admit 7,000 Iraqi refugees who had helped the coalition since the invasion. According to Washington based Refugees International the U.S. has admitted fewer than 800 Iraqi refugees since the invasion, Sweden had accepted 18,000 and Australia had resettled almost 6,000.
About 80,000 Iraqis live in Sweden, forming the country’s second largest immigrant group. As of 2004, France is home to an estimated 5 to 6 million of people both Arabic and Berber speaking from North Africa. There is also a medium sized Arab community in Australia (home to roughly 400,000 Arabs, mostly Lebanese), where Arabic is the fourth most widely spoken second-language. The number of Muslim and Christian Arab Australians are roughly equal with a slight Christian majority. See Australian population: ethnic origins.
Prominent members of the Arab diaspora include;
- Abdalá Bucaram (Lebanese origin), former President of Ecuador
- Alberto Dahik (Lebanese origin), former Vice President of Ecuador
- André Apaid (Lebanese origin), high-profile Haitian businessman
- Antoine Izméry (Palestinian origin), Former wealthy Haitian businessman and pro-democracy activist
- Antonio Saca (Palestinian origin), former President of El Salvador
- Matteo Ferrari (Algerian origin), Italian footballer
- Mari Al Kathiri (East Timor origin), Prime Minister of East Timor 2002–2006
- Migidio Bourifa (Moroccan origin), is an Italian long-distance runner
- Magdi Allam (Egyptian origin), is Italian journalist
- Malika Ayane (Moroccan origin), Italian Singer
- Azzedine Alaia (Tunisian origin), prominent fashion designer.
- Bader Ben Hirsi (Yemeni origin), award-winning British-Yemeni director
- Bushido (Tunisian origin), German rapper
- Carlos Flores Facusse (Palestinian origin), former President of Honduras
- Carlos Ghosn (Lebanese origin), Brazilian-born businessman, CEO of Nissan and Renault, former CEO of Michelin.
- Carlos Menem (Syrian origin), former President of Argentina
- Carlos Slim Helú (Lebanese origin), Mexican businessman. He was listed as the richest man in the world by Forbes.
- Charles Elachi (Lebanese origin), the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
- DJ Khaled (Palestinian origin), American DJ
- Edward Saïd (Palestinian origin), US intellectual
- Edward Seaga (Lebanese origin), former Prime Minister of Jamaica
- Elias Zerhouni (Algerian origin), former Director of National Institutes of Health (United States)
- La Fouine (Moroccan origin), French rapper
- Gilberto Kassab (Lebanese origin), current mayor of São Paulo
- Hala Gorani (Syrian origin), journalist and anchor of CNN's International Desk.
- Hatem Ben Arfa (Tunisian origin), French footballer who currently plays for Newcastle United
- Jacobo Majluta Azar (Lebanese origin), former President of Dominican Republic
- Jaime Nebot (Lebanese origin), current Alcalde of Guayaquil, Ecuador
- Jamil Mahuad (Lebanese origin), former President of Ecuador
- Julio Cesar Turbay (Lebanese origin), former President of Colombia
- Justin Abdelkader (Jordanian origin), an American ice hockey player
- Karl Wolf (Lebanese origin), Canadian pop star
- Khaled (also of Algerian origin) Raï musician now living in France
- Lisa Hanna (Lebanese origin), Miss World 1993 of Jamaica
- Mário Zagallo (Lebanese origin),Brazilian football coach and former player
- Mitch Daniels (Syrian origin), Governor of Indiana
- Mohamed Al-Fayed (Egyptian origin), Businessman, former owner of London's Harrods and the Ritz Palace in Paris.
- Nadhmi Auchi (Iraqi origin), Businessman, founder and Chairman of General Mediterranean Holdings.
- Najib Balala (Yemeni origin), member of parliament in Kenya.
- Natasja Saad (Sudanese origin), Danish rapper and reggae singer.
- Paulo Maluf (Lebanese origin), politician, former mayor of São Paulo city and former governor of São Paulo state in Brazil
- Rachid Taha (Algerian origin) Raï musician now living in France
- Rachida Dati (Moroccan-Algerian origin)French politician and Member of the European Parliament, ex-Minister of Justice.
- Ralph Nader (Lebanese origin), 2004 US presidential candidate
- Ramez, (Lebanese origin) French rapper
- Said Musa (Palestinian origin), former Prime Minister of Belize
- Salma Hayek (Lebanese origin), Mexican actress.
- Salvador Jorge Blanco (Syrian origin), former President of Dominican Republic
- Samir Nasri (Algerian origin), French footballer who currently plays for Manchester City F.C.
- Schafik Handal (Palestinian origin), Salvadoran born FMLN leader
- Shakira, (Lebanese origin) Colombian singer and musician.
- Steve Jobs (Syrian origin), high-profile American business magnate and inventor.
- Tarak Ben Ammar (Tunisian origin), international movie producer and distributor.
- Tariq Ramadan (Egyptian origin), Swiss intellectual
- Tige Andrews (Syrian origin), an American character actor
- Yasmine Bleeth(Algerian-American origin)American actress
- Yazid Sabeg (Algerian-born) businessman now living in France
- Samir Nasri (Algerian origin), French
- Hatem Ben Arfa (Tunisian origin), French
- Sami Khedeira (Tunisian origin), Germany
- Khalid Boulahrouz (Moroccan origin), Dutch
- Talal El Karkouri (Moroccan origin), Morocco
- Younes Kaboul (Moroccan origin), Morocco
- Marouane Chamakh (Moroccan origin), Morocco
- Mounir El Hamdaoui (Moroccan origin), Dutch/Moroccan footballer of AFC Ajax
- Khadija Arib (Moroccan origin), Dutch politician
- Ahmed Aboutaleb (Moroccan origin), Dutch politician
- Maryam Hassouni (Moroccan origin), Dutch actress
- Laïla Abid (Moroccan origin), Dutch journalist
- Ali B (Moroccan origin), Dutch rapper
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