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The Arab World in Virginia

posted on: Oct 19, 2020

By: Cait O’Connor/ Arab American Contributing Writer

Virginia has one of the fastest-growing Arab populations in the country. The number of people claiming Arabic descent has more than doubled since 1980. The majority of Arab-Americans are of Lebanese descent, followed by Egyptian, Moroccan, and Palestinian. Of the state’s 137 counties, Arabs live in 97, with the majority Gloucester County. 20.5% of Arab-American Virginians live in a Gloucester town called Ware Neck, in the south of Virginia. 


 Lebanese Taverna a highly popular chain with several restaurants, cafes, and food stores across Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. The flagstaff location in Westover was founded in 1979 by Tainos and Marie Abi-Najm. They emigrated to Arlington with their five children in 1976 to escape civil war in Lebanon.

Me Jana

“Ya Mejana” is an old Lebanese folk ballad used to welcome family and reminisce about good times. The Arlington restaurant certainly welcomes local diners with quality, Zagat-rated fare. Since their opening in 2007, owners Rabih Abi-Aad and Khalil Azar have been committed to serving fresh, authentic Lebanese food to the greater D.C. area.


Meaning “homeland,” the dishes at Aldeerah come straight from the heart of Saudi Arabia and the food of the Bedouin culture. The Vienna location offers an authentic dining experience in a lavishly decorated, colorful space.

Parallel 38

“Brought to you by Justin Ross, Parallel 38 is a Mediterranean inspired restaurant located in Charlottesville, VA. P38 offers a contemporary yet casual environment that encourages guests to explore the unique flavors found within the temperate latitude of the 38th parallel – along which the world’s most iconic food and wine regions sit, such as Alicante in Spain, Italy’s Calabria, the Greek Ionian Islands, Napa Valley, and Charlottesville.”

Baladi Mediterranean Cafe

Baladi opened in 2008 at Hilltop West Shopping Center. Since then, Chef Khaled has been serving both quality interpretations of classic Palestinian dishes and daring new ventures into the uncharted territories of Middle-Eastern Cuisine.

The phrase Baladi Foods means natural and organic foods that are prepared with traditional methods. Café’s interior reflects the setting of a traditional home in Middle East also paying tribute to hospitality of Arabic culture.


  • Organic, Unfiltered Olive Oil (Lebanon);
  • Organic, Authentic, Imported Spices (Palestine);
  • Organic Turbinado Sugar and Clover Honey;
  • Purified, Filtered Water.

Cedar’s Lebanese Restaurant

“Cedars Lebanese Restaurant is a family-owned business that has been a long time coming. Our main goal in this business is to bring a diverse taste along with a glimpse of the Lebanese culture to the Roanoke Valley. All of our dishes are direct results of family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. One thing you will notice when you come to visit us is that we are 100% dedicated to customer service and will go the extra mile to satisfy our customer.”

Mazari Kebab and More

“In 1481, Afghanistan’s most popular pilgrimage city, Mazar-i-Sharif, completed construction on a beautiful blue mosque situated in its center. The blue mosque is renowned for being home to thousands of white doves that have lived there since the 12th century. The enduring doves are said to symbolize peace and sanctity.”

Community Associations

Arab American Association of Central Virginia

The mission of the Association is to:

  • promote a sense of community amongst those of Arab origin preserve the heritage and cultural values of the Arab community.
  • serve as a conduit through which Arab-Americans get to know each other
  • provide service to members of the community through social connections and networking

The group organizes events, including dinners and fundraisers, for Arab-Americans in the Richmond area. Founded in 2011, the group focuses on addressing the Arab-Americans and involving the larger community in interfaith activities.

Religious Organizations

Outside of New York and Michigan, Northern Virginia has the highest concentration of Muslim-Americans in the U.S.

Muslim American Society


“The Muslim American Society is a dynamic charitable, religious, social, cultural, and educational, organization. Over the past two decades, MAS has expanded to more than 50 chapters across the United States. MAS offers unique programs and services that seek to better the individual and in turn, the greater society by imparting Islamic knowledge, promoting community service, engaging in political activism, and much more.”

“MAS delivers a rigorous educational curriculum to its current and potential members that focuses on the systematic development of the Muslim individual, the Muslim family and the Muslim community, in order to become elements for a social revival in the American society. We aspire to raise a generation of committed and disciplined Muslims who will become ambassadors that present the message of Islam and implement the Movement’s vision in all fields of Islamic work. With this outlook, MAS participates in services, programs and activities to enrich and reform the American Society.”

mission: To move people to strive for God-consciousness, liberty and justice, and to convey Islam with utmost clarity.

The society offers a wide range of educational, cultural, and charitable activities for Muslims across the U.S.

Educational Programs

UVA Summer Arabic Program


“Studying Arabic at the University of Virginia will give you the ability to communicate with more than 330 million of the world’s population and prepare you for an adventure of discovery in the Arab world—a cradle of civilization and birthplace of monotheistic religions. The Arabic language also unlocks the door to a wealth of diverse literature (including fiction, science, philosophy, and religion) composed over the past 16 centuries. Unlike most modern languages, after completing 200-level courses, you will be able to access texts dating back a millennium and a half!

Unlike most summer Arabic programs that focus exclusively on Modern Standard Arabic, the Arabic SLI combines instruction in Classical Arabic and Colloquial Levantine. This innovative curriculum is based on the belief that colloquial and classical studies are mutually reinforcing. That is, the study of colloquial at once promotes a deeper understanding of classical and unlocks the subtle layers of cultural meaning that permeate everyday life in the Arabic-speaking world.

Whether you aspire to study Arabic for work in government and NGOs, or for higher studies in literature, religion, and political science, or simply for your own personal fulfillment, the SLI will equip you with the language skills and cultural knowledge you’ll need.”

Click here to find UVA’s primary Arabic language department page, offering sixteen different language courses divided between fusha and dialectal Arabic.

Fairfax Institute and Fawakih Institute Quranic Arabic Program

The Fairfax and Fawakih Institutes offer year-round, winter, and summer courses for Arabic language learning.


The primary objective of the year-round localized program is to combine quality and convenience, enabling everyone to have the ability to learn the language of the Quran without interrupting their work and education or being limited to online or only summer residential options. Through mastery of Arabic grammar, morphology reading, and vocabulary, the course facilitates language acquisition through both active and passive engagement. The instructor’s role is to enable students to develop their linguistic skills effectively and efficiently, but the onus is on students to invest both time and considerable effort towards the end.

Students engage Quranic vocabulary (mufradat al Quran), understand various sentence components (nahw), and dissect words and understand patterns (awzan) to gain a deeper understanding of the root meanings (sarf). To read more, click here.


Fawakih is excited to offer 3 one-month summer sessions. Each session is centered upon Quranic Arabic classes and students will complete one level of our Arabic curriculum. Each session also has a unique theme that provides students a gateway into various aspects of the Muslim World. Click here to read more.


Fawakih Winter Arabic Intensive, with special enrichment sessions focusing on prayer, taught by various Fawakih scholars. Like Fawakih’s summer intensive, the course will have 3 hours of Arabic instruction at all levels daily, covering grammar, morphology, and reading. These skills classes will be supplemented by prayer enrichment sessions, which will include topics such as:

  • Analysis of short surahs, duas, and parts of prayer
  • In-depth analysis of Surah Fatihah
  • Stories from the seerah regarding the origins of various parts of the prayer
  • Quranic ayaat and hadith about prayer
  • Fiqh of prayer
  • Inner dimensions of prayer

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