12 Arab American Attractions to See in the United States
By: Alexa George/Arab America Contributing Writer
Today, there are plenty of misconceptions surrounding Arab people and Arab Americans. In order to combat those misconceptions, it’s imperative to explore the history and heritage of Arabs who have been living in America for 150 years or even longer. The attractions listed below provide information on historical figures and places that have defined the Arab American identity for generations to come.
1. Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan
The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn emphasizes the importance of diversity in the U.S. by displaying the history and culture of Arab Americans. The museum opened its doors in 2005 and continues to shed light on issues of all varieties concerning Arab Americans and the misconceptions that surround it. AANM also normalizes the Arab American narrative, showcasing all the different ways Arabs came to the country and have made it their home. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday but can be viewed Wednesday – Saturday from 10AM-6PM and Sunday from 12 PM– 5 PM.
2. Al-Markez Arts Center for the Greater Middle East in Los Angeles, California
Opening only in 2015, Al-Markez has been able to successfully unify Arab Americans of LA through art. Incorporating these unique expressions provide an understanding of the culture and the diversity of each country. The main goal of Al-Markez is to showcase the art of minorities by allowing artists to freely mix contemporary pieces with traditional practices. The center is open Monday-Friday from 10AM-6PM and is closed on Saturday and Sunday, or with events as posted.
3. Alex Odeh Memorial in Santa Ana, California
The Alex Odeh Statue in Santa Ana memorializes the Palestinian American man, who was killed in a bombing at his office. Unfortunately, the member(s) responsible have not been apprehended, but there is still hope from the Arab American community. He was the West Coast Regional Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) when his tragic death occurred. The statue is available for viewing any time or day of the week.
4. Antiochian Village Museum in Bolivar, Pennsylvania
The Antiochian Village Museum provides a unique presentation of art, culture, and history about Eastern Orthodox Christianity and its roots, both inside and outside of the Levant The Village include a museum, as well as a conference center and summer camp for kids and teens. Hand embroidered clothing and wood furniture are just a few of the items that can be found at the museum. The Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10AM-4PM and Sunday from 12PM-4PM.
5. Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The Jerusalem Fund is a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. that intends to raise awareness about Palestine, both in and out of the U.S. Part of the work accomplished at the Jerusalem Fund is humanitarian based, helping to raise funds for the associated costs. Its partner organization, The Palestine Center, also hosts a variety of conferences and lectures surrounding policy analysis. The Jerusalem Fund/Palestine Center is open Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
6. Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden in Washington, D.C.
The Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden in Washington, D.C was dedicated to the Lebanese American poet. The memorial resides on Massachusetts Ave near the British Embassy. Gibran is considered a political rebel in the Arab world and a literary hero around the world. The garden was dedicated to Kahlil Gibran by George H.W. Bush in 1991 and renovated in 2011. The park is open at all times.
7. Kahlil Gibran Memorial in Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts
The Kahlil Gibran Memorial in Copley Square was built as another dedication to the Lebanese American literary giant and philosopher. The sculpture reads, “It was in my heart to help a little because I was helped much.” Kahlil Gibran, a godson to the famous poet, created the statue and memorial. The memorial lies outside of the Boston Public Library.
The park is open at all times.
8. Lebanese Cedar Tree at The White House in Washington, D.C.
The Lebanese Cedar Tree was planted 30 years ago on April 28, 1978, by President Jimmy Carter and members of the Lebanese American community including Senator Abourezk, Congresswoman Okar, and Congressman Moffet. The tree can be seen on the grounds of the White House during scheduled tours.
9. Little Syria in New York City, New York
Little Syria was given its name because of the influx of Greater Syrians, mostly considered Syrian and Lebanese today, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Little Syria was home to early Arab American literary giants and has had ample exhibits at the Arab American National Museum. Today, many New Yorkers are fighting to save Washington Street and the hub that is known as “Little Syria.” Recently, there was a display in lower Manhattan that shed light on what life was truly like back when Arab immigrants made their journey to the United States.
10. Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The second mosque in America was established in 1934 in Cedar Rapids and is known as “Mother Mosque of America.” It was built by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants, and despite a devastating flood in 2008, the upper floor and its components remained untouched. Today, it still functions as a place of worship and is used by the local American Muslim community for prayer and informational purposes. The mosque has select hours that can be found by calling (319) 366-3150.
11. Omani Cultural Center in Washington, D.C
The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, DC serves to bond Omani and American people through the use of educational programs, lectures, art, and other informational resources. It was established in 2005 and named after Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman. There is an annual fellowship and study abroad program available through the center. The Omani Cultural Center is open Monday-Friday from 10AM-4PM.
12. The Syrian Garden in Cleveland, Ohio
The Cleveland Gardens were established in 1929 after John D. Rockefeller contributed 254 acres to the city. Rockefeller gave the land to Cleveland in order to establish a part of the city that is specifically used to memorialize diverse ethnic groups. Syria’s history and culture are displayed throughout the Syrian Garden on six pedestal columns with Damascene roses. From the Arches of Palmyra to the Amphitheater of Basra, each historical attraction is presented. The garden can be seen any day of the week from 7AM-7PM.