By, Rick Beitman
You might walk like an Egyptian, sing like an Iraqi, dance like the Lebanese, eat like a Jordanian, smoke like a Qatari, or enjoy all things Middle Eastern at the Arab American Festival. – The local event took place in Uptown Phoenix at Steele Indian School Park October 18-19 from 4:00 PM until 9:00 PM.
The Arab American Festival is very much a cultural experience. Put on annually by a nonprofit organization of the same name, the festival showcases Arab culture. – Offerings included traditional, Middle Eastern cuisine such as chicken shawarma at the food court. The bazaar included booths of vendors selling trinkets, local businesses, and other activities.
The hookah lounge was the spot where guests could enjoy smoking sheesha, Middle Eastern, flavored tobacco. Perhaps a little too popular, the hookah had run out by the time a group of T-Birds arrived at the lounge around 8:30 PM on Saturday. – On stage there were performers belly dancing and music playing from across the region ranging from Iraqi beats to Egyptian melodies.
Among the T-Birds present at the venue, Muhammad Mustafa, MBA student from Amman, Jordan, stated:
“As an Arab, I would say that the overall environment, food and music reminded me of the Middle East. I was happy to see people talking in Arabic around me. Also, It was very nice to see how the Arab community represents Arabic culture abroad.”
While celebrated only once a year, the Arab American Festival is not the only game in town. – Although not as large scale, the Lebanese Cultural Festival is coming up November 7-9 at St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church, 5406 East Virginia Avenue. – Phoenicians need not wait until next year to get another taste of Middle Eastern culture.