July 08, 2005
By Shazia Khan
With New York home to dozens of ethnicities, the city often dedicates a week to celebrate a specific community. This year a new group will be spotlighted. In the following report, NY1’s Shazia Khan has more on the city’s first ever Arab-American Heritage Week.
According to the Arab-American Institute, nearly 200,000 New Yorkers identify themselves as Arab-American, tracing their roots to countries such as Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Iraq.
From music to food to Shisha cafes, Arab-American culture is very much part of New York City culture. Now, the mayor’s office is making it official, with the inauguration of Arab-American Heritage Week.
“We want to highlight the contributions, the talent, and all of the wealth of positive contributions that Arab-Americans and Arab New Yorkers have made to this city and country,” says Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Guillermo Linares.
Local Arab-American groups worked for nearly three years to establish this weeklong celebration of their culture. Brooklyn resident Debbie Almontaser, a member of the Yemeni-American Association, spearheaded the campaign to provide more insight on the community.
“Arab-Americans come form 22 countries in the Middle East and in North Africa, and we wanted the American public, the New York public to see the diversity in the culture, in the customs, in the traditions, but most importantly know that we share only one thing – which is the Arabic language,” she says. Read more…