Little Arabia

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This article is about Little Arabia District in southern California, previously known as Garza Island, which later became known as Little Gaza and ultimately Little Arabia.

Little Arabia District is an ethnic enclave in Orange County, California, United States,[1] the center for Orange County's Arab-Americans, who number more than 24,000 (As of 2000).[2] It is sometimes referred to as "Little Gaza" which was a play on the original designation of this area as the "Garza Island." [3][4] Little Arabia grew significantly in the 1990s with the arrival of immigrants from the Middle East, and is the home to thousands of Arab-Americans predominantly hailing from Egypt, Syria, and Palestine.[5]

The district is centered on Brookhurst Street in Anaheim, near the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) between La Palma Avenue and Katella Avenue.[6] Businesses include halal butcher shops, beauty salons, jewelry stores, travel agencies, bakeries,[7] Arab and Armenian[8] restaurants, and hookah cafes.[4][9][10] There are also numerous mosques and a few churches in the enclave.

Hookah Lounges/Restaurants[edit]

Little Arabia is known for its popular hookah lounges. More than a dozen businesses that serve hookah and/or sells hookah supplies exist in the district. Established restaurants that serve hookah include Nara Bistro and Nubia Cafe. Popular hookah lounges include Hidden Cafe, Fusion Ultra Lounge, and Dream Cafe.

Anaheim made national news in 2005 when the city banned belly dancing in Little Arabia's hookah bars.[11]

In its annual "Best of OC" awards, the OC Weekly awarded Olive Tree Restaurant, located on Brookhurst St. and Orange, the 2011 Best Middle Eastern Restaurant award.[12] The restaurant is known for its "daily special" dishes. Each day, one or two specials, such as "Maqluba", "Sayadeia" (marinated, grilled whole fish), and "Kabsa".

Reaction to the "Arab Spring"[edit]

In 2010, Nara Bistro became the first business in Little Arabia to be registered in the city of Anaheim as "Little Arabia's Nara Bistro".

In 2011, Little Arabia became the center of Arab-American activities supporting the wave of Arab revolutions known as the "Arab Spring". On February 4 a demonstration in support of the Egyptian revolution took place on Brookhurst Street [13] followed by a celebration on February 11 after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted[14] and another one on February 12.[15] A series of pro democracy protests in support of the Syrian revolution were also held.[16] On October 20, local Libyan-Americans greeted the death of Moammar Gaddafi with joy.[17]

During the Hosni Mubarak trial, local restaurants, including Nara Bistro and Nubia Cafe, were packed with people glued to TV screens watching live coverage of the trial until 5 am.[18]

In August 2011, a restaurant named "Medan el-Tahrir" or "Tahrir Square" opened on Magnolia Ave. The restaurant hosted an event for the Syrian American Council, an organization opposed to Bashar al-Assad's rule, on August 13.[19] The event featured a representative of the Syrian Local Coordinating Committee addressing the attendees via Skype, as well as Ausama Monajed, editor of the "Syrian Revolution News Round-up."


  1. ^ Brown, Aldrin (25 October 2001) "Anaheim's Muslim community sees spike in suspected hate crimes" The Orange County Register p. 1
  2. ^ Flaccus, Gillian (10 October 2006) "Anaheim city council race heats up as GOP leader accuses candidate of pro-Hezbollah activities" from The Associated Press
  3. ^ Associated Press (13 September 2004) "News briefs from around Southern California: Anaheim City Officials are Investigating Complaints"
  4. ^ a b Arellano, Gustavo (2 November 2006) "Grub Guide" OC Weekly (Anaheim, CA)
  5. ^ Carter, Chelsea J. (16 March 2002) "Arabs, Jews in U.S. express frustration over conflict" The New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) p. D-1, D-3, from The Associated Press
  6. ^ Staff (15 March 2004) "Muslim Americans rallying to vote in 2004 election" Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) p. B-4 from The Orange County Register
  7. ^ E.g., Sarkis Pastry,
  8. ^ E.g., Zankou Chicken,
  9. ^ Jolly, Vic (21 February 1999) "Little Gaza Community Thrives as Arabic-American Mecca" The Seattle Times p. A-7, from The Orange County Register
  10. ^ Arellano, Gustavo (22 October 2004) "The Best Little Gaza Businesses, According to Mike and Nancy Hawari, Owners of Kareem Restaurant and Makers of the Finest Falafels on the Planet" OC Weekly (Anaheim, CA) p. 80
  11. ^ Flaccus, Gillian (27 October 2005) "City cites noise, drugs in regulating hookah bars" Journal-Tribune (Marysville, Ohio) p. 6B, from The Associated Press
  12. ^ OC Weekly,
  13. ^ Al-dabbagh, Rashad (2011-02-05). "Happy Arab News: Rally in Anaheim's "Little Arabia" in support of the Egyptian people [OC Register]". Happy Arab News. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  14. ^ "Anaheim's Little Arabia Celebrates Mubarak's Resignation". 2011-02-11. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  15. ^ Orange Juice Blog,
  16. ^ The Orange County Register, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  17. ^ NBC,
  18. ^ OC Weekly,
  19. ^ Al-dabbagh, Rashad (2011-08-13). "Happy Arab News: Anaheim's Tahrir Square hosts Syrian opposition meeting". Happy Arab News. Retrieved 2018-02-16.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]