Arab Immigrant to the USA

Brief History


Like other nations of the world, immigration for the Arabs has historically been a great step socially, economically, and culturally beneficial to the states. Before the establishment of the United States as a nation, Arab immigrants were attracted to North America. The first historically significant period of Arab immigration to the USA started in the 1870s. Most of the Arab Christians enjoyed historically a good quality time for immigration to the USA than did the Muslims. Most of the Arab immigrants, having a previous stay in Syria hoped for a much better life for coming to the United States. With this view, many of them migrated to the USA. So, New York and Ellis proved to be the main gateways for numerous Arab immigrants.

By 1900, about half of the Arab immigrants in America resided in New York while a great chunk of the Arab immigrant community enjoyed living across the Hudson River in New Jersey. Most of the immigrants got themselves involved in the garment industry of New York and New Jersey. Many of the Arabs immigrants gained enough strength and power to own and operate silk factories by 1924 in Paterson and West Hoboken.

Arab American

During this first wave of immigration, the ratio of Arab men outnumbered Arab women (four to one ratio). This brought about the intermarriage trend to a much higher rate in a very short duration. The 1990 census revealed the fact that more than 80 percent of the US-born Arab-Americans don't have Arab spouses. 

Gradually the trend gained fame, and immigrants started to live in other areas of the United States as per their job demands. A few of the Arab immigrants were attracted to the great booming Midwestern factories of steel, tin automobiles, and trains in different cities such as Pittsburgh, Michigan City, New Castle (Pennsylvania), and Detroit.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that immigration has not been a smooth-going process. Instead, three waves of Arab immigration to the United States have been recorded. The roughly defined first wave lasted from the late 1800s (around about 1870s) to 1924, the second wave recorded to have a duration from mid-1940s until 1965, and the third wave started in 1965 and is continued until the present era.

Arab Immigrants


Arab immigrants to the USA don't share a common origin. There's a vast list of the countries of origin for Arab Americans as noted by the Arab American Institute. The countries of origin are AlgeriaBahrainLebanonLibya, ChadComorosDjiboutiEgyptMauritaniaMorocco, IraqJordanKuwait, OmanQatar, Saudi ArabiaSudanSyriaSomaliaIsraelPalestine, TunisiaUnited Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

A recent census revealed that roughly up to 1.2 percent of the overall US population comprises Arabs. A major chunk of immigration took place in the era between 1990 and 2000, in which the estimated increment of the Arab American population reached up to 30 percent. The majority of the Arab Americans are Lebanese, as they are considered to be the largest group in every state except for New Jersey. In New Jersey, Egyptians are the largest community. The majority of the Arabs living in the United States are citizens as per recent estimation.

The majority of Arab Americans found a home in Detroit metropolitan area followed by different areas such as the New York City Combined Statistical Area, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and the Washington D.C area.


Despite different challenges, Arab Americans continue to contribute to different activities to gain fame in the American community. So for survival, they actively participated in business, the arts, and the sciences. As initial steps are very hard for survival, the Arab immigrants had been a hidden minority for a long period. The education system failed to comprehensively address their educational, cultural, and psychological needs. A lot of help and proper counseling was the major basic demand for an adjustment in American education due to a great difference as compared to the educational experience of their homelands. So, to assist the students to eliminate the gap, educators started to get well aware of the similarities and differences between the Arabian and American education systems. Many of the American schools altered their instructions to provide a well-balanced view of Arabic history, culture, and political values. All this made the American educational system more respectable for the Arabs, as they feel proud of their heritage in that educational environment.

Many Arab Americans willingly assimilated the American lifestyle in all aspects while some tried to maintain a standard level of multiculturalism. Traditional Arabic families encouraged their children to apply their education values in school systems. 

Now, in general, Arab Americans are much well educated than the average Americans. A greater proportion of the Arab Americans have attended college, and have master's degrees or higher education. The proportion of well-educated Arab Americans is almost twice as compared to the Americans.


The national identity of Arab Americans is based on distinctive traditions, culture, language, and politics. The Americans of Arab descent have roots in almost every Arab country but most of the Arab Americans have their origin in  Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. Some communities also had their origin in Iraq, Egypt, and Yemen. The first wave of Arab national immigrants arrived in the late 19th century in the United States, while the second wave originated after World War II. The third and latest wave is continuing. The majority of Arab Americans are now centered in the Detroit area.


Different occupational opportunities are available for both Arab-Americans and Non-Arab Americans. The top four categories available are :

  • Executive/ administrative/managerial
  • Professional specialty
  • Sales Services (not personal domestic or protective),
  • Precision repair

The top four industries that attract Arab entrepreneurs are

  • Retail Trade
  • Construction
  • Finance/insurance/real estate, and
  • Professional industries

The sales rate among Arab-American entrepreneurs is much higher than non-Arab-American entrepreneurs. In addition to these, Arab Americans have also gained fame in other occupations such as farming, forestry, and fishing. Some are engaged in mining, administration, or various agricultural fields. A few Arab-Americans are also involved in the transport business. 


Immigration has been a great step. Arabs started immigration to the USA in the 1870s and the process is continued. Passing through different phases, they gained fame in the business community. Many of the hardships blocked their way to education, but gradually the system and the immigrants molded accordingly. Arabs had been natives of several Arabian countries and now as Arab Americans, they are enjoying better standards of life.