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Arab American National Heritage Month


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Arab Countries

The Arab World consists of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa:

  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • The Comoros Islands
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Mauritania
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen. 


Arab American National Heritage Month

What is Arab American National Heritage Month?


Arab America Foundation Logo

During the month of April, the Arab America Foundation formally recognizes the achievements of Arab Americans through the celebration of National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). Across the country, cultural institutions, school districts, municipalities, state legislatures, public servants, and non-profit organizations issue proclamations and engage in special events that celebrate our community’s rich heritage and numerous contributions to society.

Recognition of Arab American Heritage Month

During the month of April, the Arab America Foundation formally recognizes the achievements of Arab Americans through the celebration of National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017, with just a handful of states recognizing the initiative. In 2022 President Biden recognized April as Arab American Heritage Month in a commemorative letter to Arab America, and this year he issued the first ever Presidential Proclamation for AAHM, officially designating this Month as Arab American Heritage Month Nationally. To read about state legislatures that recognized AAHM previously and this years historic Presidential Proclamation, head to the links above!

Arab and Arab American Identity

Arbeely family portrait, featuring six adult men, one teenager, and a woman.

The Arbeely’s, pictured here in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1881, were the first Syrian family to immigrate to the United States, having arrived three years prior. By 1890, most had moved to Los Angeles, and two, Najib and Ibrahim, moved to New York and established the first Arabic language newspaper in the U.S., Kawkab Amirka, in 1892. (Photo: Courtesy of Habeeb and Dania Arbeely.)

The term Arab American applies to those who are descendants of immigrants or immigrated to the United States from countries within Northern Africa and Southwest Asia. Arab American is a pan ethnic term, meaning it contains multiple ethnicities and cultural groups within one larger community.. Arab American is not a religious ethnicity, instead unified by shared regional space and language, as most Arab countries predominantly speak Arabic.

Today, it is estimated that nearly 3.7 million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country.The majority of Arab Americans are native-born, and nearly 82% of Arabs in the U.S. are citizens. While the community traces its roots to every Arab country, the majority of Arab Americans have ancestral ties to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq. This information is taken from the Arab American Institute Foundation, a national civil rights advocacy organization. AAIF organizes the 3.7 million Arab Americans across the country to ensure an informed, organized, and effective constituency is represented in all aspects of civic life. AAIF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Learn more about their mission and research at the link below

The Pan Arab Flag

Origins of the Pan Arab Flag

There is both a historic interpretation of the meaning behind the Pan Arab flag colors and a poetic interpretation. The history of the flag's colors comes from the Caliphate rule, an Islamic based empire that dominated the Arab region from  the 600s through out the 1200s. Black represents the Rashidun caliphate, which existed from 632-661, and the Abbasid Caliphate, which existed from 750-1517. These are the first and third true Caliphates respectively, and they were marked by a pure black banner. The color white represents the second Caliphate, the Umayyad Caliphate, which was the true Caliphate from 661-750, and whose banner color was white. The color green represents the Fatimid Caliphate, which existed from 909-1171 in North Africa before being conquered by the Abbasids. Red represents the Hashemites, who have traditionally ruled Mecca, and the Ottomans, who, while not Arab, were the fourth true Caliphate and controlled many Arab lands.

The poetic interpretation of the flag's colors comes from a 14th century poem written by Iraqi poet Safi ad-Din al-Hilli. This particular poem is a fakhr, or a boasting poem, where he relishes the fact that he was able to avenge his uncle in battle. The exact line goes as follows: “White are our deeds, black are our battles, Green are our tents, red are our swords.” Ad-Din al-Hilli was a prolific poet, so these lines have had a long history of influence over the Arab world, which made them prime to be chosen to represent Arabs as a whole. 

See the Link above to learn how these colors came to be used to represent Arab Identity.