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Anaheim’s Little Arabia Is Finally An Official Location

A sign with business names above a mini-mall parking lot.
Businesses along Brookhurst Street in the heart of Anaheim's Little Arabia.
(Leslie Berestein Rojas
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After years of community lobbying, the Anaheim city council voted Tuesday to formally designate a portion of Brookhurst Street as “Little Arabia.”

The designated area will run between Ball Road and Broadway, a smaller stretch than what community advocates and businesses were asking for. But Little Arabia supporters are still calling it a major victory.

“I always felt that it was a matter of time, that the designation was going to happen, that it was just a matter of being persistent,” said Rashad Al-Dabbagh, executive director of the Arab American Civic Council, a local civic advocacy group that has helped spearhead the more recent efforts to secure an official designation for Little Arabia.

The council vote was 5-0, with one councilmember abstaining.

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The designation is especially important as a recognition of the businesses, services and residents who’ve built up Little Arabia over the years, said longtime local activist Rida Hamida. A Palestinian American who grew up in Anaheim as the child of immigrants in the 1980s, she said the neighborhood helped her stay connected to her roots.

“I am a daughter of Little Arabia,” said Hamida, executive director of the nonprofit Latino Muslim Unity. “I learned from these business owners how to hustle, how to work hard.”

“The official designation of Little Arabia is a historic decision, not just for Anaheim or California, but for our nation,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the L.A. chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “There is no other city, county, or state in the United States that officially recognizes the innumerable contributions of the [Middle Eastern/North African] community in such a monumental way, which makes me even more proud to reside in this great state.”

The official designation of Little Arabia is a historic decision, not just for Anaheim or California, but for our nation.
— Hussam Ayloush, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations L.A. Chapter

The West Anaheim neighborhood along Brookhurst between Crescent and Katella Avenues has been known informally as Little Arabia for decades. The area is home to roughly 100 businesses catering to Southern California’s Middle Eastern and North African diasporas, including restaurants and grocery stores, that attract Orange County locals and visitors.

It’s also a well-known port of entry for many new immigrants and refugees, who can find social and legal services in the neighborhood, even jobs.

Community efforts to designate Little Arabia date back at least to the 2000s, but until recently had gotten little traction with the city.

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