Arabs in London – A Diverse and Open-minded Community

This post is part of a series of blog posts introducing the multiple migrant communities living in London.

London is a known place of tolerance. With an estimated 379 mosques, London beats all other European capitals at welcoming and creating spaces for the muslim community – if one excludes Turkish cities obviously. However, migrants from the middle-eastern region are still far from being visible in mainstream society. How so?

Reham, our Community Manager at Migreat for Arabic migrants provides us with few cultural points why Arabs are generally far more discreet than other migrant communities and how to increase your chances to meet and mingle with the fascinating arab worlds that co-exist in London.

Edgeware

The Arab migration to the UK has long been influenced by the geo-political instability in the Arab world. London Arab community, estimated at 114,000 according to official statistics (and more by informal ones), includes entrepreneurs, low and highly skilled workers as well as students. West London has been a favourite location for Arabs to live in. One can also find in North East London migrants from the Maghreb countries who came in the 1980s-90s. According to the Census Information Scheme statistics, 46% of Arabs living in England and Wales are based in London.

The Arab community is highly diverse and rich in culture, religion, food, and lifestyle. As such, they are difficult to classify into one category. Nevertheless, Arabs are universally known for their hospitality, and their undoubtedly very tasty food which is not that difficult to get a taste of in London. A stroll up the famous Edgware road – better known as London’s ‘Little Arabia’, ‘Little Beirut’ or ‘Little Cairo – is bound to give you a real feel of what a traditional Arab street looks like, from the wafting shisha fragrance to Arabic shop signs and Middle Eastern grocery stores.

But Edgware road is just the beginning. Arab migration to the UK has initiated a rapidly increasing wave of Arab cultural and artistic events in London, introducing prominent and emerging talents from the Arab world and facilitating the integration of the Arab community.

Arab British Centre

Thanks to cultural centres and galleries, such as the Arab British Centre, the Mosaic Rooms, Arts Canteen, Gallery P21, and Ayyam Gallery, among others, today one can easily draw up a long list of exhibitions, concerts, workshops, film screenings, theatre performances and many more Arab and Middle Eastern events. To get the list going, keep posted on London’s first Arab Film and TV Awards which is set to be launched on February 3, 2015. In July, the much celebrated Shubbak festival will come back to London for its third year. In its 2013 edition, the festival hosted 52 events, attracting more than 55,000 visitors from London and the Arab world. More events can be discovered on Nahla Ink, the online journal celebrating London and “the British Arab in London”. Check Nahla’s Curious Inbox here.

If you are curious to discover more about the sophisticated Arab lifestyle and culture, pay a visit to the one-of-a-kind blog of food writer and chef, Anissa Helou. Not just for food: she also shares her picks of mesmerising belly dance performances – mostly from the classics of Egyptian cinema – in her ‘belly dancer of the month’ series. Or read through the One hundred and One mezze recipes on Syrian Foodie in London, an insightful blog about Levantine cuisine and Middle Eastern culinary culture.

Otherwise, just participate next time in the annual festival held in Trafalgar square in celebration of Eid Al-fitr, or simply tune in to Maha’s Arabic music show on Kilburn to Kensal radio.

**

At Migreat, we want to assist the integration of all migrants to the local community. Reham daily fetches news and information for Arabs living in London and post them online on Migreat. Either about local events, services and offers, the Migreat arab community is full of resources available to you to settle in London, meet people and feel home again.

If you are new to London or interested in the community, visit Migreat Arabic community and feel part of it!

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