Arab diaspora

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Arab Diaspora
العرب المغتربون
Total population
According to the International Organization for Migration, there are 13 million Arab migrants, of whom 5.8 million reside in Arab countries.
Regions with significant populations
 United States3,500,000[5]
 United Kingdom500,000 [15]
 Canada450,000 [17]
Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Hebrew, Japanese Turkish
among others
Predominantly Christianity in the Americas, Islam in Europe , but also Druze and irreligion, among others
Related ethnic groups

Arab diaspora refers to descendants of the Arab immigrants who, voluntarily or as refugees, emigrated from their native lands in non-Arab countries, primarily in East Africa, South America, Europe, North America, and parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and West Africa.

According to the International Organization for Migration, there are 13 million,[20] 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.[21] Large numbers of Arabs migrated to West Africa, particularly Côte d'Ivoire,[22] Senegal,[23] Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.[24] Since the end of the civil war in 2002, Lebanese traders have become re-established in Sierra Leone.[25]

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.[26][27]

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.[28] Of these 9 million Arabs, seven million are of Lebanese ancestry,[29][30][31] making Brazil's population of Lebanese greater than that of Lebanon itself. Most other Brazilians of Arab descent are mainly Syrian. Other large Arab communities includes Argentina, Venezuela,[32] Colombia, Mexico and Chile. Palestinians cluster in Chile and Central America, particularly El Salvador, and Honduras.[33] The Palestinian community in Chile[34][35] 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.[36]



Garden East exhibition of the Arab World Institute in Paris

The Arab diaspora, comprising Arab immigrants and their descendants, currently represents the highest percentage of Arabs living in Europe. They are Arabs and Europeans, but they are unlike the Arabs who were born in the Arab world and unlike the Europeans who inherited their European origins and culture from father to son.

The difference between these European Arabs and other Europeans often makes them experience a state of cultural detachment, as well as crises of their education, identity and citizenship. This is a modest attempt to examine this phenomenon whilst highlighting the obstacles facing European Arabs and to propose some solutions. Furthermore, it is a call to draw attention to the European Arabs who have played a successful role in their communities and to utilize them in raising awareness of Arab issues and rectifying the image of Arabs in Europe with the aim of supporting Euro-Arab dialogue and cooperation.[37]

There are millions of Arabs living in Europe mostly concentrated in France (about 6,000,000 in 2005[38]) most Arabs in France from Maghreb but also some from Mashreq areas of the Arab world) in France forms the second largest ethnic group after French people of French origin. There are no official figures concerning the demographics of French people of Arab descent because ethnic statistics are forbidden in France.[2]

Italy (about 1,309,200[39]) are mostly expatriates from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Palestine, and Iraq; and also small groups from Jordan, Algeria and Sudan. Spain (about 800,000[40][41] to 1,600,000 - 1,800,000[42][43][44][45]), there have been Arabs in Spain since the early 8th century when the Umayyad conquest of Hispania created the state of Al-Andalus. In modern times there are expatriates from a range of Arab countries.[46][47][48] Germany (over 1,000,000[49]), they form the second-largest predominantly Muslim immigrant group in Germany after the large German–Turkish community.[49]

United Kingdom (366,769[50] to 500,000[51]) British Arabs are represented in the business and media fields, among other areas. Miladi (2006)'s survey of 146 community members during the summer of 2001 reported Al-Jazeera as being the respondents' preferred news outlet. Reasons supplied for the selection included the quality of the station's programs and transmission, its discussion of current issues in the Arab world, and the possibility of giving voice to the community's concerns and positions on various matters.[52] Greece (250,000 to 750,000[53]), In addition, Greece has people from Arab countries, who have the status of refugees (e.g. refugees of the Syrian civil war) or illegal immigrants trying to immigrate to Western Europe.[54] Sweden (210,400[55]). Netherlands (180,000[56]). Denmark (121,000). And in other European countries, such as Norway, Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.[57]


Map shows the distribution of Arabs in 1965's.

The population of Arabs in Turkey varies according to different sources. Al Jazeera and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy estimates the Arab population before the Syrian Civil War in 2011 from 1,500,000[58] to more than 2,000,000,[59] with recent Syrian refugees 2,748,367,[60][61] so Arabs in Turkey constituency now numbers anywhere from 4.5 to 5.1% of the population. Put another way, with nearly 4-5 million Arab inhabitants.[62][59]

North America[edit]

Diagram indicating Arab American settlement in the United States. Image as based on the census 2000 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Arabs have been emigrating to North America for over a century, and they now number approximately three to seven million.[63] For most of this period of emigration, the overwhelming majority of Arab immigrants to America were Christian. However, large numbers of Muslim Arabs have settled in the New World, especially since World War II. Almost from the beginning, the Arab community in North America suffered from negative attitudes directed against it by the host society.[64] An important ingredient in negative stereotypes of Arabs is the general American impression that Arabs are essentially the same people. Indeed, to Americans.[65][66][67]

Arab immigration to the United States began coming to the U.S. in sizable numbers during the 1880s. Today, it is estimated that nearly 3.7 million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country.[68][69][70]

Arab Americans are found in every state, but more than two thirds of them live in just ten states: California, Michigan, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Metropolitan Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York are home to one-third of the population.[69] 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, Morocco, Iraq, Libya, the GCC and other Arab nations.[71] Contrary to popular assumptions or stereotypes, the majority of Arab Americans are native-born, and nearly 82% of Arabs in the U.S. are citizens.[72] While the community traces its roots to every Arab country, the majority of Arab Americans have ancestral ties to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq.[73][73][74][75]

Steve Jobs Syrian biological father, co-founder of Apple Inc.[76]

Arabs immigrants, began to arrive in Canada in small numbers in 1882. Their immigration was relatively limited until 1945, after which time it increased progressively, particularly in the 1960s and thereafter.[77] With a staggering (750,925) of Canadian Arabs residing in one of Canada's 11 major cities, the distribution of the Canadian Arab community within Canada's most populous and diverse provinces speaks to the influence of economic and social potential for prosperity, as well as historic immigration trends, on the settlement of Arab communities within Canada.[78] In addition, the variation in Arab ethnic majorities across the different city centers further indicates their expectations for successful resettlement.[79][80]

For instance, with 89% of Tunisians residing in either Montreal or Quebec City (11,305 out of 12,680 Tunisians settled in the province of Quebec) and 90% of Lebanese (63,280 in Montreal or Quebec City out of 70,205 in Quebec),[81] the diversity of both major cities is reflected as a vital component in the choice of location for Francophone Canadian Arabs. Similar distributions can be found within Ontario (94% of Palestinians and 93% of Egyptians living in Ontario reside in its major city centers) and other provinces, further emphasizing the importance of diversity and potential for social and economic prosperity on the settlement trends of Canadian Arabs.[82][83]

Latin America[edit]

The Hospital Sírio-Libanês (Syrian-Lebanese Hospital) founded by the Lebanese Community in 1931 in São Paulo.

Latin America has the largest Arab population outside of the Arab World.[84] Latin America is home to anywhere from 17-25 to 30 million people of Arab descent,[85] that's more than any other diaspora region in the world.[86][87]

The Brazilian and Lebanese governments claim there are 7 million Brazilians of Lebanese descent.[88][89] Also, the Brazilian government claims there are 4 million Brazilians of Syrian descent.[88] According to a research conducted by IBGE in 2008, covering only the states of Amazonas, Paraíba, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso and Distrito Federal, 0.9% of white Brazilian respondents said they had family origins in the Middle East.[28][90][91][92] making Brazil's population of Lebanese greater than that of Lebanon itself. Most other Brazilians of Arab descent are mainly Syrian.

Other large Arab communities includes Argentina (about 4,500,000[4]), the majority of the Arab Argentines are from either Lebanese or Syrian background with a smaller amount of Palestinian, Egyptian and Moroccan background.[93] Among Arab Argentines, approximately 900,000 are Muslims.[94] The interethnic marriage in the Arab community, regardless of religious affiliation, is very high; most community members have only one parent who has Arab ethnicity.[95] Venezuela (over 1,600,000[8]), mainly from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.[8][32] Colombia (over 1,600,000 [9] to 3,200,000[96][97][98]), most Arab Colombians from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine,[99] a genetic study found that on average the Colombians have 8.5% genes from Middle East.[100] Mexico (over 1,100,000[12]) Arab Mexicans are from either Lebanese, Saudi Arabian, Syrian, Iraqi, Moroccan, Yemeni or Palestinian background.[101] Chile (over 800,000[102][103]), most Arab Chileans from Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, who arrived in Chile in the mid-19th to early-20th centuries.[104][105] and Central America, particularly El Salvador, and Honduras (between 150,000 and 200,000).[106][107][108] 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.[109][109][109]

Shakira is a well-known Colombian of Arab descent.

From the early onset, communities, mostly from Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, dominated the private sector. Starting with the cotton industry, they rapidly moved to bigger and better professions. Today, they are now known for their large influence in telecommunications, textiles, media outlets, construction and many more.[85]

They take on professions like doctors, lawyers, engineers and clergymen. As a result, their successes have earned them an immense amount of favor and support amongst their Latin American communities, enabling them to start social organizations, participate in politics, and culturally influence the states they reside in. These political organizations, social clubs, religious institutions, and schools given way to generations of giving back to their greater communities. Through building hospitals, constructing soccer stadiums and donating to regional causes, the Arab communities have gained recognition as not only one of the wealthiest or politically active groups.[110]

The richest man in the world is a Lebanese-Mexican, Carlos Slim,[111][112] a president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, was of Syrian origin, three presidents of Ecuador were of Lebanese origin as well as one president of Colombia, Julio César Turbay Ayala. A vice president in Uruguay and another in Brazil were Lebanese. At least two Central American presidents were of Palestinian origin, and the current president of Brazil Michel Temer. This list is nowhere near complete. The famous actress Salma Hayek was born a Lebanese-Mexican, Shakira is part-Lebanese.[85]


Arab people first came to Australia in the late nineteenth century. Today more than half a million Australians claim some form of Arab ancestry.[113] In the 2001 census, 248,807 Australian residents reported Arab ancestry. Additionally, 209,372 Australians indicated that they spoke Arabic at home. 162,283 Australian residents were born in one of the Arab nations. There is currently an estimate of just over 500,000 Arabs living in the Australia today.[114]

Central Asia and Caucasus[edit]

Georgia and the Caucasus around 750, just after the emirate was established.

In 1728, a Russian officer described a group of Sunni Arab nomads who populated the Caspian shores of Mughan (in present-day Azerbaijan) and spoke a mixed Turkic-Arabic language.[115] It is believed that these groups migrated to the Caucasus in the 16th century.[116] The 1888 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica also mentioned a certain number of Arabs populating the Baku Governorate of the Russian Empire.[117] They retained an Arabic dialect at least into the mid-19th century,[118] but since then have fully assimilated with the neighbouring Azeris and Tats. Today in Azerbaijan alone, there are nearly 30 settlements still holding the name Arab (for example, Arabgadim, Arabojaghy, Arab-Yengija, etc.). From the time of the Arab conquest of the Caucasus, continuous small-scale Arab migration from various parts of the Arab world occurred in Dagestan, which influenced local culture. Until the mid-20th century, some individuals in Dagestan still claimed Arabic as their native language. The majority of these lived in the village of Darvag, to the north-west of Derbent.

The latest of these accounts dates to the 1930s.[116] Most Arab communities in southern Dagestan underwent linguistic Turkicisation, thus nowadays Darvag is a majority-Azeri village.[119][120] According to the History of Ibn Khaldun, the Arabs that were once in Central Asia have been either killed or have fled the Tatar invasion of the region, leaving only the locals.[121] However, today many people in Central Asia identify as Arabs. Most Arabs of Central Asia are fully integrated into local populations, and sometimes call themselves the same as locals (for example, Tajiks, Uzbeks) but they use special titles to show their Arabic origin such as Sayyid, Khoja or Siddiqui.[122]

South and southeast Asia[edit]

Kechimalai Mosque, Beruwala. One of the oldest mosques in Sri Lanka. It is believed to be the site where the first Arabs landed in Sri Lanka

There are only two communities with the self-identity Arab in India, the Chaush of the Deccan region and the Chavuse of Gujarat,[123][124] who are by and large descended of Hadhrami migrants who settled in these two regions in the 18th Centuries. However, both these communities no longer speak Arabic, although with the Chaush, there has been re-immigration to Persian Gulf countries, and re-adoption of Arabic by these immigrants.[125] In South Asia, claiming Arab ancestry is considered prestigious, and many communities have origin myths with claim to an Arab ancestry. Examples include the Mappilla of Kerala, Labbai of Tamil Nadu. These communities all allege an Arab ancestry, but none speak Arabic and follow the customs and traditions of the Hindu majority.[126]

Among Muslims of North India and Pakistan there are groups who claim the status of Sayyid, have origin myths that allege descent from the Prophet Mohammad. None of these Sayyid families speak Arabic or follow Arab customs or traditions.[127]Iraqi biradri can be considered as an Arab because the record of their ancestors who migrated from Iraq exists in historical documents.

There are about 5,000,000 Native Indonesians with Arab ancestry,[128] Arab Indonesians mainly Hadrami, descent. The group also includes those of Arab descent from other Middle Eastern Arabic speaking nations. Restricted under Dutch East Indies' law until 1919, the community elites later gained economic power through real estate investment and trading.[129] Currently found mainly in Java, especially West Java, they are almost all Muslims.[129] Sri Lankan Moors are the third largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, comprising 9.23% of the country's total population. They are native speakers of the Tamil language[130][131] and predominantly followers of Islam. While sources trace their ancestry to Arab traders (Moors) who settled in Sri Lanka some time between the 8th and 15th centuries.[132][133][134][135]

Sub-Saharan Africa[edit]

Afro-Arabs are individuals and groups from Africa who are of partial Arab descent. Most Afro-Arabs inhabit the Swahili Coast in the African Great Lakes region, although some can also be found in parts of the Arab world.[136][137] Large numbers of Arabs migrated to West Africa, particularly Côte d'Ivoire (home to over 100,000 Lebanese),[138] Senegal (roughly 30,000 Lebanese),[23] Sierra Leone (roughly 10,000 Lebanese today; about 30,000 prior to the outbreak of civil war in 1991), Liberia, and Nigeria.[24] Since the end of the civil war in 2002, Lebanese traders have become re-established in Sierra Leone.[139]

Arabs have been present in Ghana for millennia, mostly as merchants in the 15th century, then into the 21st century as business people, and due to this intermarriage has occurred with also the production offsprings of Afro-Arabs; Fathia Nkrumah is a notable Arab with ties to Ghana. She was the late wife of Ghana's first president and revolutionist Kwame Nkrumah, whose marriage was seen as helping plant the seeds of cooperation between Egypt and other African countries as they struggled for independence from European colonization. This helped advance the formation of the African Union.[140] Arabs who have lived in Ghana for most of their lives have acquired Ghanaian citizenship. There are over 100,000 Arab residents in Ivory Coast as of 2009. Most are either former expatriates or current shopkeepers' families who are descended from immigrants of Middle Eastern and North African origin.[141][142]

Map with the extent of the Rashaida people.

The Rashaida are a tribe populating Eritrea.[143] In 1846, many Rashaida migrated from the Hejaz in present-day Saudi Arabia into what is now Eritrea after tribal warfare had broken out in their homeland. The Rashaida of Eritrea live in close proximity with the Beja people. Large numbers of Bani Rasheed are also found on the Arabian Peninsula. The Bani Rashid are related to the Banu Abs tribe.[144] The Djiboutian Arabs of Djibouti, numbering 44,000, are Unengaged and Unreached. They are part of the Arab, Yemeni people cluster within the Arab World.[145][not in citation given] Their primary language is Ta'izzi-Adeni Arabic. The primary religion practiced by the Djiboutian Arabs is Shia Islam, one of two major denominations of Islam.[146] According to the CIA, there are 30,000 Arabs in Somalia[147]

Baggara belt

The Arabs of Chad occupy northern Cameroon and Nigeria (where they are sometimes known as Shuwa), and extend as a belt across Chad and into Sudan, where they are called the Baggara grouping of Arab ethnic groups inhabiting the portion of Africa's Sahel. The Chadian Arabs are (2,391,000 to 2,500,000[148]) live in the dry central Chadic Sahel zone of the landlocked country of Chad. Libya surrounds the country to the north; while Sudan is to the east; Niger (150,000[149]) is to the west; and Nigeria (289,000[150]), Cameroon (171,000), and the Central African Republic (107,000) are to the south and southwest. Because of its central location, Lake Chad is the region's most important body of water. Arab ancestors emigrated from Sudan to Chad during the fourteenth century. They were primarily nomadic camel herders and slave traders. By the eighteenth century, the Arabs counted their wealth in their large herds of horses, cattle, goats, and sheep. Although the Arabs are respected by the Chad government because of their wealth in animals, they don't play a very large role in Chad's political arena. Their pastoral lifestyle has also saved them from being forced by the government to change culturally-an action that has disrupted the lives of the more settled peoples.[151][152]

Notable people[edit]

Prominent members of the Arab diaspora include:


Fashion, beauty[edit]

Film, television[edit]

Literature / theatre[edit]

Media and intellectuals[edit]


  • Adel Tawil (Egyptian / Tunisian origin), German singer, songwriter and producer
  • Ali B (Moroccan origin), Dutch rapper
  • Bushido (Tunisian origin), German rapper
  • DJ Khaled (Palestinian origin), American DJ
  • Eric Saade (Palestinian Lebanese origin), Swedish singer
  • Fady Maalouf (Lebanese origin), German singer
  • Fredwreck (Palestinian origin), American record producer
  • Ibrahim Maalouf (Lebanese origin), French saxophonist
  • Indila (Algerian origin), French singer
  • Kareem Salama (Egyptian origin), American country singer
  • Karl Wolf (Lebanese origin), Canadian pop star
  • La Fouine (Moroccan origin), French rapper
  • L'Algérino (Algerian origin), French rapper
  • Lowkey (Iraqi origin), British rapper and political activist
  • Maher Zain (Lebanese origin), Swedish singer
  • Malika Ayane (Moroccan origin), Italian rapper
  • Massari (Lebanese origin), Canadian singer
  • Nasri Tony Atweh (Palestinian origin), Canadian lead singer of Magic!
  • Natasja Saad (Sudanese origin), Danish rapper and reggae singer
  • Rami Yacoub (Palestinian origin), Swedish record producer
  • RedOne (Moroccan origin), Swedish record producer
  • Samy Deluxe (Sudanese origin), German rapper
  • Salem Al Fakir (Syrian origin), Swedish singer
  • Sarbel (Lebanese origin), Greek singer
  • Shakira (Lebanese origin), Colombian singer
  • Tarak Ben Ammar (Tunisian origin), international movie producer and distributor
  • Tunisiano (Tunisian origin), French rapper
  • Zaho (Algerian origin), Canadian singer




See also[edit]




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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]