Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

The debate over Little Arabia: What’s in a name?

by Josie Huang | Take Two

Hamsa Al Moukdad, a cook at Aleppo's kitchen, pours olive oil into a bowl to make tabbouleh. Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Drive along Brookhurst Street in West Anaheim, and dozens of storefront signs in Arabic crop up amid logos for Starbucks and Jack-in-the Box.

Known informally as Little Arabia, Arab-owned bakeries, restaurants, clothing stores and hair salons have been taking root on this roughly two-mile stretch of Brookhurst since the 1980s.

Customers have been known to travel hours for delicacies and wares they can’t find elsewhere in the western US, such as Aleppo’s Kitchen’s nine varieties of kibbeh — a dish made of lamb or beef, spices and pureed onions.

Given the area’s growth and popularity, some community activists and business leaders are pushing to make the Little Arabia moniker official. The area has become a point of pride, and an important part of identity for the city's Arab-Americans.

“We want to share our culture, we want to celebrate our culture with everyone that lives here,” said community activist Rida Hamida, part of a group advocating for an official designation.

It's an idea that has floated around in recent years, and failed to catch on. Some long-time residents are outspoken in their opposition. But the idea of branding Little Arabia is gaining traction with city leaders eager to give visitors another taste of Anaheim aside from Disneyland or the convention center.

KPCC's Josie Huang reports.

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