Chinatowns in the Middle East

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Chinatown, My Chinatown.pdf
Cover of sheet music, published in 1910
Chinese 唐人街
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 中國城
Simplified Chinese 中国城
Second alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 華埠
Simplified Chinese 华埠

Chinese immigration in the world has traditionally been to the United States, Canada, Australasia, Europe and within Asia. However, migration to the Middle East is a recent occurrence that has very little documentation, with Dubai and Iran having some references, and more recently, northern Iraq.[1]



The Chinese in Algeria are a group of Chinese nationals numbering an estimated 40,000 people, most of whom live in the Bab Ezzouar district of Algiers. According to the BBC, in 2009, there have been clashes between them and the local population over the high unemployment and the fact that these migrant workers would often accept low wages, fueling tensions.[2]


1955 Ma Bufang with KMT ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Cairo and Alexandria[edit]

Chinese people in Egypt form one of the smaller groups of overseas Chinese, numbering about 6,000 - 10,000 situated mainly in Cairo and Alexandria. Many who are drawn to this country are Chinese Muslims.



Iran's total Chinese population is estimated at between 2,000 and 3,000 people, and is one of the smaller groups of overseas Chinese.[3] Most of this group is situated in Tehran.


Ties between China and Iraq date back only to 1958 and was only strengthened after the Persian Gulf War. After the 2003 Iraq War, China came out as the big winner with Iraq's oil contracts. After the war, the city of Baghdad had only one Chinese restaurant. As of 2011, 500 Chinese nationals live in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah.

Baghdad Chinese history[edit]

Baghdad, the capital of Iraq was home to only one authentic Chinese restaurant in 2006 when the country was getting back to a sense of "normalcy". A man by the name Chen Xianzhong opened up the restaurant near the National Theater that eventually branched out and had a hotel was the only place in the city that served authentic Chinese food, although there were Iraqi versions of the restaurants in the larger hotels. After a suicide bomber blew up a car near his restaurant and when his chefs quit after being kidnapped, he eventually fled to the northern Kurdish section of the country where it was safer.[4] In 2008, ABC News reported that Baghdad once again got its "first" Chinese restaurant in the upscale neighborhood of the Korrada District.[5]


According to an article from Al Jazeera, Iraq's northern city of Sulaimaniyah in Kurdistan is attracting much foreign investment. According to this article, about 500 Chinese live in Sulaimaniyah of about 750,000 population. The Chinese market is located in the Kawa Mall.[6]


Eli Marum, Israel's first high-ranking military officer of Chinese descent

Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities[edit]

Chinese people have immigrated to Israel in several separate groups, which include Jews from China and students studying in Israeli universities, as well as guest workers. Many of these laborers face deportation due to their illegal status. According to the article, the government of Israel has contradictory policies that encourage their presence, while at the same time imposing tighter restrictions on their visas and employability.[7]


There is a sizeable community of Chinese people in Pakistan, based largely in urban centres. The areas of Clifton and DHA in Karachi have many Chinese restaurants and businesses and are sometimes dubbed as Chinatown.[8]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

There are approximately 180,000 Chinese people in the United Arab Emirates, about 150,000 of them live in Dubai.


External links[edit]