Anaheim’s Little Arabia Pushing for a Higher Profile

Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2014

Two miles from Disneyland, a stretch of strip malls in Anaheim has transformed into an enclave catering to California’s Arab American community.

It lacks the immense sprawl of nearby Little Saigon or the decades-long history of Chinatown in Los Angeles, but the place now known as Little Arabia is a destination for Arab Americans from around the state and, lately, a go-to place for foodies in search of Middle Eastern dishes.

Yet Little Arabia is largely unknown to the millions of tourists who flood into Anaheim every year—and it remains below the radar even to longtime residents in the city’s west side.

A group of ambitious activists and business owners is trying to change that by getting city and tourism officials to recognize the commercial district as a destination.

“The most important thing to us is saying, ‘We are part of Anaheim,'” said Rida Hamida, director and co-founder of the Arab American Civic Council. “You have Disney, the Honda Center, the Angels, and you also have Little Arabia.”


Proponents’ most ambitious goal—an official designation for Little Arabia and an accompanying freeway sign—is a long-term one. But it’s getting push-back from some nearby residents and even some within Little Arabia.

Some residents say such a designation would shortchange other ethnic pockets in the county’s largest city. They have also complained about the increase in hookah lounges that have opened in Little Arabia.


Generally seen as the dense commercial strip along Brookhurst Street between Crescent and Katella avenues, Little Arabia holds a wide variety of storefronts. There are restaurants, grocery stores, hookah bars and clothing shops, each catering to the region’s large Arab American population, all intermixed with a slew of chain groceries, fast-food places, Mexican diners and muffler shops.

“We’re not ready to do a grand opening yet for Little Arabia because it’s not ready,” said Ahmad Alam, owner of Arab World Newspaper and a local property owner who envisions malls, movie theaters, “something to hang on to.”

Alam said Little Arabia lacks cohesion and has fallen short of the place he imagined: an ethnic community that would “make everything available for the new generation, to know about their history and heritage.” The area, he said, is not yet suitable for an official designation.


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  • Tim_in_Indiana

    Someday, I imagine, cities will have their own “little Europe.” And it will of course be the nicest part of the city.

    • sbuffalonative

      I certainly HOPE they allow us to have our own ‘little Europes’.

  • Alam said Little Arabia lacks cohesion and has fallen short of the place he imagined

    I’m so shocked that a city whose demographics now resemble that of an international airport lacks social cohesion.

  • Sharps Rifle

    Just what LA needs! A one-stop location for underage marriages, clitorectomies and suicide bombing supplies! I’ll bet the hipsters are SO proud!

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      You can tell the federal government hates ordinary white Americans. Massive Muslim immigration makes another 9/11 a near certainty.

      • sbuffalonative

        I’m beginning to question if whites are as smart as we believe them to be.

      • Who Me?

        At least when it happens we will know of one place to start the retaliation.,.oh wait…White Americans won’t

        • Zaporizhian Sich

          Don’t be so sure, Slavs have NO love for Muslims or Islam, and they killed them accordingly for 1,000 years.

      • joesolargenius

        The Muslim Clerics whom favor Jihad will have a field day recruiting future suicide bombers from that area , as they like recruiting from the social outcast and weak of mind !

      • wildfirexx

        I don’t think the 9/11 job was just the work of the Jihad…that would make them look to smart! We already had enemies on the inside!

  • IstvanIN

    I liked it much better when an Arab was something you read about in World Book or National Geographic.

  • JohnEngelman

    If I am in the area I will go there to eat at an Arab restaurant to see what Arab food is like.

    • Go soon. When the muzzies gain enough power, your wife will have to wear a tent and I’m betting she won’t like that.

    • Who Me?

      Much safer to get a cookbook and make your own.

    • NoMosqueHere

      You better pray real arabs don’t handle the food. It’s a disgusting truth that arabs don’t like to use toilet paper, but rather they prefer to use their left hand to do the deed. Ok, gross….but is this any more disgusting than the Rockefeller cannibal story?

      • Tim_in_Indiana

        At least watch out for Arabs who have a left hand that’s darker than the right.

      • JohnEngelman

        Thanks for telling me that. On second thought, I will skip the Arab restaurant.

      • Truth Teller

        Do you assume everyone from the Middle East is a Muslim? I don’t know about Muslims but non Muslims wash their hands.

  • Yesterday an amren commenter published a pic of LA that I republished last night on my saboteur365 blog. It’s appropriate today. I prefer then to now.

  • NoMosqueHere

    “Yet Little Arabia is largely unknown to the millions of tourists who flood into Anaheim every year—and it remains below the radar even to longtime residents in the city’s west side.”


    Call me crazy, but I doubt most tourists don’t want to spend their precious vacation time sight seeing in an arab ghetto “all intermixed with a slew of chain groceries, fast-food places, Mexican diners and muffler shops.”

    • saxonsun

      Unfortunately, here in NYC and its boroughs, we have tons of these Arab cesspools.

  • DudeWheresMyCountry?

    Give it a few years to stew and the Arab community will start to “demand” the MLB Angels change their name as it will be deemed offensive and not in line with the “diverse” community of Orange County. People, Orange County used to be a gem of America… other than the coastal towns it is something quite different now. Take a look at my hat.

  • JSS

    How exotic. Little Fallujah next to little Mogadishu which is next to little T.J. Soon National Geographic correspondents can just fly down to California.

  • The saddest part? “Anaheim” comes from “Anna-Heim,” German for Anna’s Home. It was founded as a German-American town.

  • scutum

    I came back from Vietnam in 1966 and spent a couple of years in the Los Angeles area. I had a cousin who lived in Anaheim and an uncle who lived in Long Beach. Both areas were pretty nice back then. My uncle was an LA County Sheriff’s officer and the neighborhood he lived in had a lot of police and firefighters as residents. My uncle is long since deceased and all of my cousins left LA years ago for obvious reasons. I have a buddy here in Milwaukee who was a police officer and wanted to apply for a position on the force as a helicopter pilot. He went out to Southern California back in the 90s for some sort of rotary wing aircraft convention and when he came back he told me the only area where saw any white people was in Beverly Hills.