Out of MENA: Nine cities the Arab Diaspora calls home

Published May 8th, 2015 - 10:02 GMT

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Arabs have been subject to many conflicts, much political turmoil and lots of religious persecution. Throughout the centuries many have fled their home countries, looking for a new start and ultimately establishing large Arab populations outside of the Middle East. 

From the Ottoman Empire's rule in the early 1900s, to Lebanon’s civil war in the 1970s, to the ongoing Syrian conflict, many conflicts have led to the Arab Diaspora. Some populations are new, others have been around for centuries.  Continue reading below »

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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Home to 11 million Arabs, the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, Brazil became the destination for Syrian and Lebanese Christians since the early 19th century. In “Levantine” Sao Paulo, Arab businesses thrive at the crossroads of Arab-Brazilian neighborhoods. (AFP/File)
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Home to 11 million Arabs, the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, Brazil became the destination for Syrian and Lebanese Christians since the early 19th century. In “Levantine” Sao Paulo, Arab businesses thrive at the crossroads of Arab-Brazilian neighborhoods. (AFP/File)

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DEARBORN, MICHIGAN: This Midwestern US state has become a go-to place for Arabs seeking a life in America. Most of the immigrants today in southeast Michigan are Iraqis, but migration from all over the MENA region began in the 1930s when Henry Ford established an auto factory in the town, sparking moves to find jobs in the industry. (Twitter)
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9DEARBORN, MICHIGAN: This Midwestern US state has become a go-to place for Arabs seeking a life in America. Most of the immigrants today in southeast Michigan are Iraqis, but migration from all over the MENA region began in the 1930s when Henry Ford established an auto factory in the town, sparking moves to find jobs in the industry. (Twitter)

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ILE-DE-FRANCE: After World War II more than a million Arabs from formerly French-occupied territories in the Maghreb region migrated to France. Today 40 percent of residents in the greater Paris area are immigrants, with Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians maintaining the largest presence from the MENA region. (Shutterstock)
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9ILE-DE-FRANCE: After World War II more than a million Arabs from formerly French-occupied territories in the Maghreb region migrated to France. Today 40 percent of residents in the greater Paris area are immigrants, with Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians maintaining the largest presence from the MENA region. (Shutterstock)

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BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: The South American country with the largest Syrian population after Brazil, Syrians began migrating to Argentina throughout the 20th century and continue moving there today. In 2012 Argentina received 40 percent more visa applications from Syria than the previous year due to the conflict.
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: The South American country with the largest Syrian population after Brazil, Syrians began migrating to Argentina throughout the 20th century and continue moving there today. In 2012 Argentina received 40 percent more visa applications from Syria than the previous year due to the conflict.

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LONDON: Like France, England saw an influx of Arab migrants in the ’50s and ’60s as countries in the Middle East tried to recover from French and British occupation. Today half a million from the Arab diaspora live in the UK, with most residing in the Greater London area.
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9LONDON: Like France, England saw an influx of Arab migrants in the ’50s and ’60s as countries in the Middle East tried to recover from French and British occupation. Today half a million from the Arab diaspora live in the UK, with most residing in the Greater London area.

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BARANQUILLA, COLOMBIA: Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese populations began migrating to Colombia in the 1880s and were given the Spanish name 'Turcos' to refer to the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Baranquilla is the birthplace of Shakira, a product of the Lebanese diaspora whose name comes from the Arabic word for “grateful.” (Twitter)
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9BARANQUILLA, COLOMBIA: Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese populations began migrating to Colombia in the 1880s and were given the Spanish name "Turcos" to refer to the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Baranquilla is the birthplace of Shakira, a product of the Lebanese diaspora whose name comes from the Arabic word for “grateful.” (Twitter)

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TRINIDAD: In the early 1900s Syrian and Lebanese Christians in fear of religious persecution moved to Trinidad, where the economy, political stability and environment seemed ideal to Arabs seeking a new life. With their entrepreneurship they managed to establish themselves on the island and become an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago.
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9TRINIDAD: In the early 1900s Syrian and Lebanese Christians in fear of religious persecution moved to Trinidad, where the economy, political stability and environment seemed ideal to Arabs seeking a new life. With their entrepreneurship they managed to establish themselves on the island and become an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago.

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CARACAS, VENEZUELA: An estimated 1.5 million Arabs live in the country, with the most significant population in Caracas. Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians became a major influence in Venezuelan culture through food and music.
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Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9CARACAS, VENEZUELA: An estimated 1.5 million Arabs live in the country, with the most significant population in Caracas. Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians became a major influence in Venezuelan culture through food and music.

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QUEBEC, CANADA: Home to some of the more recent migrants from the Middle East, Canada has only had a significant Arab population since the 1990s. Unlike other countries, the majority of Middle Easterners — mostly from Lebanon — are first-generation migrants and born outside of Canada.
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Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9QUEBEC, CANADA: Home to some of the more recent migrants from the Middle East, Canada has only had a significant Arab population since the 1990s. Unlike other countries, the majority of Middle Easterners — mostly from Lebanon — are first-generation migrants and born outside of Canada.

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1

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Home to 11 million Arabs, the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, Brazil became the destination for Syrian and Lebanese Christians since the early 19th century. In “Levantine” Sao Paulo, Arab businesses thrive at the crossroads of Arab-Brazilian neighborhoods. (AFP/File)

Image 1 of 9SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Home to 11 million Arabs, the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, Brazil became the destination for Syrian and Lebanese Christians since the early 19th century. In “Levantine” Sao Paulo, Arab businesses thrive at the crossroads of Arab-Brazilian neighborhoods. (AFP/File)

2

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN: This Midwestern US state has become a go-to place for Arabs seeking a life in America. Most of the immigrants today in southeast Michigan are Iraqis, but migration from all over the MENA region began in the 1930s when Henry Ford established an auto factory in the town, sparking moves to find jobs in the industry. (Twitter)

Image 2 of 9DEARBORN, MICHIGAN: This Midwestern US state has become a go-to place for Arabs seeking a life in America. Most of the immigrants today in southeast Michigan are Iraqis, but migration from all over the MENA region began in the 1930s when Henry Ford established an auto factory in the town, sparking moves to find jobs in the industry. (Twitter)

3

ILE-DE-FRANCE: After World War II more than a million Arabs from formerly French-occupied territories in the Maghreb region migrated to France. Today 40 percent of residents in the greater Paris area are immigrants, with Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians maintaining the largest presence from the MENA region. (Shutterstock)

Image 3 of 9ILE-DE-FRANCE: After World War II more than a million Arabs from formerly French-occupied territories in the Maghreb region migrated to France. Today 40 percent of residents in the greater Paris area are immigrants, with Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians maintaining the largest presence from the MENA region. (Shutterstock)

4

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: The South American country with the largest Syrian population after Brazil, Syrians began migrating to Argentina throughout the 20th century and continue moving there today. In 2012 Argentina received 40 percent more visa applications from Syria than the previous year due to the conflict.

Image 4 of 9BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: The South American country with the largest Syrian population after Brazil, Syrians began migrating to Argentina throughout the 20th century and continue moving there today. In 2012 Argentina received 40 percent more visa applications from Syria than the previous year due to the conflict.

5

LONDON: Like France, England saw an influx of Arab migrants in the ’50s and ’60s as countries in the Middle East tried to recover from French and British occupation. Today half a million from the Arab diaspora live in the UK, with most residing in the Greater London area.

Image 5 of 9LONDON: Like France, England saw an influx of Arab migrants in the ’50s and ’60s as countries in the Middle East tried to recover from French and British occupation. Today half a million from the Arab diaspora live in the UK, with most residing in the Greater London area.

6

BARANQUILLA, COLOMBIA: Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese populations began migrating to Colombia in the 1880s and were given the Spanish name 'Turcos' to refer to the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Baranquilla is the birthplace of Shakira, a product of the Lebanese diaspora whose name comes from the Arabic word for “grateful.” (Twitter)

Image 6 of 9BARANQUILLA, COLOMBIA: Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese populations began migrating to Colombia in the 1880s and were given the Spanish name "Turcos" to refer to the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Baranquilla is the birthplace of Shakira, a product of the Lebanese diaspora whose name comes from the Arabic word for “grateful.” (Twitter)

7

TRINIDAD: In the early 1900s Syrian and Lebanese Christians in fear of religious persecution moved to Trinidad, where the economy, political stability and environment seemed ideal to Arabs seeking a new life. With their entrepreneurship they managed to establish themselves on the island and become an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago.

Image 7 of 9TRINIDAD: In the early 1900s Syrian and Lebanese Christians in fear of religious persecution moved to Trinidad, where the economy, political stability and environment seemed ideal to Arabs seeking a new life. With their entrepreneurship they managed to establish themselves on the island and become an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago.

8

CARACAS, VENEZUELA: An estimated 1.5 million Arabs live in the country, with the most significant population in Caracas. Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians became a major influence in Venezuelan culture through food and music.

Image 8 of 9CARACAS, VENEZUELA: An estimated 1.5 million Arabs live in the country, with the most significant population in Caracas. Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians became a major influence in Venezuelan culture through food and music.

9

QUEBEC, CANADA: Home to some of the more recent migrants from the Middle East, Canada has only had a significant Arab population since the 1990s. Unlike other countries, the majority of Middle Easterners — mostly from Lebanon — are first-generation migrants and born outside of Canada.

Image 9 of 9QUEBEC, CANADA: Home to some of the more recent migrants from the Middle East, Canada has only had a significant Arab population since the 1990s. Unlike other countries, the majority of Middle Easterners — mostly from Lebanon — are first-generation migrants and born outside of Canada.

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In 2014 an estimated 7 million Arab migrants lived outside of the MENA region, according to the International Organization for Migration. But that doesn't include Arab descendants. 

South America became a hub for Arabs leaving the Middle East, Brazil being the most prominent example (where the Lebanese diaspora population is larger than Lebanon itself). But Islam is also the fastest growing religion in Europe, showing widespread Arab influence.

Where have the Arabs gone to call a new home? Some answers might surprise you. 

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