Little Arabia

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Little Arabia
Little Gaza
Little Arabia is located in California
Little Arabia
Little Arabia
Location of the enclave in California
Little Arabia is located in the United States
Little Arabia
Little Arabia
Little Arabia (the United States)
Coordinates: 33°49′30″N 117°57′32″W / 33.825022026933816°N 117.95894576524432°W / 33.825022026933816; -117.95894576524432Coordinates: 33°49′30″N 117°57′32″W / 33.825022026933816°N 117.95894576524432°W / 33.825022026933816; -117.95894576524432
CountryUnited States
CountyOrange County
Time zoneUTC-8
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7
Area codes714 and 657

Little Arabia is an ethnic enclave in Anaheim, California,[1] the center for Orange County's Arab Americans, who number more than 24,000 (As of 2000).[2] It has been referred to as "Little Gaza" which was a riff on the nearby Garza Island neighborhoods.[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, Palestine, and Yemen.[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, Arabic and Islamic clothings,[7] travel agencies, bakeries, Arab and Armenian restaurants, and hookah cafes.[4][8][9] There are also numerous mosques and a few churches in the enclave.


Along with most of Anaheim, the area in which Little Arabia falls was mostly developed in the 1950s due to its proximity to Disneyland and the economic outgrowth it brought to the region that had long been used for orange groves. The neighborhood lost residents over time and fell into disrepair until the 1980s when the area was revived by the emigration and immigration of Arabs that make up much of the population today.[10]

Reaction to the "Arab Spring"[edit]

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 [11] followed by a celebration on February 11 after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted[12] and another one on February 12.[13] A series of pro democracy protests in support of the Syrian revolution were also held.[14] On October 20, local Libyan-Americans greeted the death of Moammar Gaddafi with joy.[15]

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.[16]

In August 2011, a restaurant named "Medan el-Tahrir" or "Tahrir Square" opened on Magnolia Avenue. The restaurant hosted an event for the Syrian American Council, an organization opposed to Bashar al-Assad's rule, on August 13.[17] 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."[18][19]

Efforts for district status[edit]

Arab American business owners and activists pushed for the area to be recognized as an official district of the city of Anaheim for decades. In 2021, a majority of registered voters in the neighborhood favored the notion of receiving official recognition by the city as well as official signage noting the ethnic enclave.[10] In 2022, the city officially recognized a mile-long stretch of Brookhurst Street.[20]


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.[citation needed]

Anaheim made national news in 2005 when the city banned belly dancing in Little Arabia's hookah bars.[21]

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.[22] 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".


  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., ADDAR CENTER,
  8. ^ Jolly, Vic (21 February 1999) "Little Gaza Community Thrives as Arabic-American Mecca" The Seattle Times p. A-7, from the Orange County Register
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ a b Elattar, Hosam (January 27, 2021). "Poll Finds Anaheim Voters Favor Recognizing Little Arabia District; City Council Ignores Push For Signs". Voice of OC. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  11. ^ Al-dabbagh, Rashad (February 5, 2011). "Happy Arab News: Rally in Anaheim's "Little Arabia" in support of the Egyptian people [OC Register]". Happy Arab News. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  12. ^ "Anaheim's Little Arabia Celebrates Mubarak's Resignation". February 11, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  13. ^ Orange Juice Blog,
  14. ^ The Orange County Register, "Syrian Americans show support for revolution | syria, syrian, assad - Top Stories - the Orange County Register". Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  15. ^ NBC,
  16. ^ OC Weekly,
  17. ^ Al-dabbagh, Rashad (August 13, 2011). "Happy Arab News: Anaheim's Tahrir Square hosts Syrian opposition meeting". Happy Arab News. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  18. ^ "Home Page". Local Coordination Committees. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012.
  19. ^ "Ausama Monajed". Syrian Council.
  20. ^ San Román, Gabriel (August 26, 2022). "Anaheim's 'Little Arabia' neighborhood is finally official". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  21. ^ Flaccus, Gillian (27 October 2005) "City cites noise, drugs in regulating hookah bars" Journal-Tribune (Marysville, Ohio) p. 6B, from The Associated Press
  22. ^ OC Weekly,

External links[edit]