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A Guide to Celebrating National Arab American Heritage Month

posted on: Apr 19, 2023

A Guide to Celebrating National Arab American Heritage Month

By: Salma Heram / Arab America Contributing Writer

April is National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). During this month, we honor the Arab Americans who came before us and fought for our community. We celebrate our culture, take pride in our heritage, and learn about our history. As such, everyone celebrates NAAHM differently. Read on as we detail all the different ways to celebrate Arab American culture and heritage; there’s something for everyone!

Online Educational Resources

You can access a wealth of information about Arab culture and heritage through various online portals, covering topics such as history, language, cuisine, and music. One of the most extensive providers of digital media on Arab and Arab American identity in the United States is Arab America. To explore a broad range of resources on these subjects, you can visit both Arab America and Arab America Foundation.

Visit Arab Art and History Museums and Exhibits

The Arab American National Museum / Source

If you happen to be near Dearborn, Michigan, consider planning a trip to the Arab American National Museum, the first and only of its kind devoted to Arab American history and culture. In New York, visit the Metropoltation Museum of Art’s Islamic Art collection as well as its Ancient Near Eastern Art and Egyptian Art collections. In Washington, DC, be sure to visit the Museum of the Palestinian People, as well as the Arts of the Islamic World collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art. If these are not accessible to you, visit your local art or history museum, and seek out Arab art in the various exhibits, which are often found in the “Middle East” or “Near East” portions of a Museum. Also, indulge in this online collection about early Arab American immigrants curated by the Smithsonian Museums, and informed by oral histories

Dine at an Arab-owned Restaurant

A Guide to Celebrating National Arab American Heritage Month
Arab Food / Source

Enjoying authentic Arabic cuisine is a great way to appreciate Arab culture. Not only are you enjoying delicious, flavorful food, but you’re also supporting Arab-American business owners by patronizing their restaurants. Arab cuisine is vastly diverse, so if one country’s dishes don’t speak to you, another one certainly will. In virtually every state, you will find many options for Arab-owned restaurants, whose owners hail from all over the Arab world; from Yemen and Morocco to Egypt and Syria, you’ll have many options to choose from. A tip for the amateur Arab restaurant connoisseur, however: make sure the restaurant is owned by Arabs to truly support our community. Some restaurants that serve “Middle-Eastern” cuisine can be Israeli, Greek, or Turkish-owned, thus making them not authentically Arab! To confirm, never hesitate to call the restaurant ahead; Arabs are amazing hosts and will make you feel right at home. 

Listen to Music by Arab and Arab American Artists

Palestinian-Chilean Artist Elyanna wearing a Kuffiyeh / Source

Another way to enjoy and appreciate Arab culture is by listening to the works of vastly talented Arab and Arab American singers and songwriters. Both Spotify and Apple Music have specially curated playlists that highlight Arabic music in every genre and from every country in the Arab world. Whether you’re into hip-hop, classical music, indie, pop, tarab, metal, or ballads, you’ll find something for you within the lyrical and artistic genius of Arab and Arab American artists. If you prefer orchestral music, attend one of the National Arab Orchestra’s performances, or enjoy their performances online. Some Arab American pop artists that are quickly exploding in popularity include Elyanna, Felukah, Bayou, Saint Levant, Anees, and Nemahsis.

Read Books and Stories by Arab and Arab American Authors

Arab and Arab American authors’ works grace the shelves of almost every bookstore in the country, no matter the genre. From poetry and short stories to fiction and nonfiction novels, you’ll be sure to find something you love by a Arab writer. See some of our recommendations below:

Covers of Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz / Source

For Adults and Young Adults

For Children and Young Adults-

Watch Arab and Arab American Shows and Films

For Sama Film / Source

Another great way to learn about the Arab American experience is through film, as you get a front row seat to our world through our own perspectives, via the work of incredible Arab and Arab American directors. Check out our recommendations below:

  • Farha (Netflix)
  • For Sama (Prime and PBS)
  • Mo (Netflix)
  • Ramy (Hulu)
  • 3000 Nights (Netflix)
  • Born in Gaza (Netflix)
  • The Present (Netflix)
  • Salt of this Sea (Nextflix)
  • AlRawabi School for Girls (Netflix)
  • Fauda (Netflix)
  • Amreeka (Hulu)

Also check out these short films featured at our “Taking Back our Narrative Event” at the Kennedy Center, sponsored by the Arab Film and Media Insitute.

Attend a Show by a Arab American Comedian 

Palestinian American Comedian Amer Zahr at one of his shows / Source

For some light-hearted fun and a good time, attend a comedy show by an Arab American comedian! Not only will you be cracking up, but you’ll also learn more about the Arab American experience and become emersed in the community. Here are some comedians we recommend:

Support Arab American Activists and Organizations

Showing your support, whether financially through donations or just by being vocal about your support and sharing on social media, can make a huge difference for the advancement of the Arab American community. By supporting Arab American organizations and activists that are already immersed in these spaces and have access to the community, your impact can be even greater than your own individual capacity! Below are some activists and organizations to follow and support:

Throughout this month, we hope you immerse yourself in Arab American culture and community, celebrate our heritage, and take pride in our identity!

Check out Arab America’s blog here!