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British Arabs are people in the United Kingdommarker who were born in or have ancestry from the Arab World. Unlike Black British or Asian British, the term is not one of those employed in government ethnicity categorisations used in the census and for national statistics. It is, however, the term used by the National Association of British Arabs and has also been employed by academics and in the media.

Most Arabs live in the Greater Londonmarker area, and many are either businesspeople, recent immigrants or students. In 2001, 225,395 people born in the Arab nations were resident in the UK. There are however thought to be in excess of 500,000 British Arabs, and when 'guesstimates' for each nationality are combined the figure is put even higher. The majority originate in Iraqmarker, Yemenmarker and Lebanonmarker.


The first Arabs to settle in Britain in sizeable numbers were Yemeni seafarers, reflecting the close political and economic ties that the British had developed with the Yemeni port of Adenmarker in the 19th century. These migrants, who formed communities in several British port cities such as South Shields and Cardiff were mostly men. Following the Second World War, more Yemenis arrived in Britain to work in the steel mills and factories in cities like Sheffield, and many of these were joined by families. The well-established Yemeni origin communities of Sheffieldmarker, Cardiffmarker, Birminghammarker, and Liverpoolmarker, continue to be an important component of the British Arab population, growing in recent decades due to family reunification and to some refugee settlement following political crisis inYemen in the 1990s. While still numerically significant, the Yemeni communities in Britain’s former industrial centres have been eclipsed by the diverse Arab community that has emerged mainly in London since the 1960s.

Between 1997 and 2005, over 63,560 people from Arab countries, mainly Iraq and Algeria, with smaller numbers from Sudanmarker, Libyamarker, Syriamarker, and Yemenmarker, claimed asylum in Britain. In 2002, on the eve of the US/UK invasion of Iraq, Iraqis alone represented 17 percent of total asylum applications in the UK.These migrants have come as a result, on the one hand, of political turmoil and economic stagnation in the Arab world, and on the other hand, of opportunities for higher education and professional advancement in Britain, especially in medicine, engineering, technology, and business.The main source countries, in descending order, are Iraqmarker, Moroccomarker, Lebanonmarker, Algeriamarker, Yemenmarker and Syriamarker. An analysis of the 2001 Census found that, amongst economically active Arab-born London residents, 54.9 per cent of Palestinian-born, 53 per cent of Jordanian-born, 48.5 per cent of Saudi-born and 46.6 per cent of Iraqi-born people were employed in managerial or professional occupations, compared to the London average of 32.5 per cent. Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan and Yemeni-born Londoners were less likely than the average member of the city's population to be in these categories though.

Immigration data provide additional insights into British Arab communities by revealing the dynamics of population movements between the Arab world and Britain. Over the past decade, inflows from the Middle East to the UK generally have outweighed outflows from the UK to the Middle East. Between 1995 and 2004, net migration from the Middle East to the UK, based on place of last and next residence, has ranged from +3,300 to +20,500 per year, with the high point of migration taking place between 2001 and 2002.


One of the largest segments of the overall migrant population in Britain comprises students, with about 131,000 people coming to Britain in 2004 alone for formal study. This is about 7 percent of all foreign students in Britain’s higher education system. The data report commissioned by the Greater London Authority shows a disproportionately high representation of students among some Arab immigrant groups in London. While 9.5 percent of Londoners over the age of 16 are students, 32 percent of Kuwaitismarker, 40 percent of Omanismarker, and 50 percent of Saudismarker in London.



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