Arab Australians

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Arab Australians
Total population
c. 500,000[1]
Australian English, Arabic, other Afroasiatic languages
Majority Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Maronites, Orthodoxy, Coptic), large minorities of Islam (Sunni, Shia), smaller minorities Druze, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Arabs, Kurds, Copts, Druze, Maronites, Assyrians, Berbers, Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds, Copts, Druze, Maronites, Assyrians, Berbers, Persians

Arab Australians refers to Australian citizens or residents with ancestry from the Middle East and North Africa, regardless of their ethnic origins. The majority are not ethnically Arab but numerous groups who include Arabs, Kurds, Copts, Druze, Maronites, Assyrians, Berbers, Turkmen and others. The majority are Christian by faith with minorities being Muslim, Druze, Yazidi and other faiths.


Arab Australians generally share a common cultural heritage, which originates in the Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).[2]

According to the AHRC, most Egyptian (69%), Lebanese (61%) and Syrian (46%) emigrants to Australia settled before 1986. Other MENA populations mainly arrived later during the 1990s, such as Iraqis, Somalis and Sudanese.[2]

Although the countries of origin of Arab Australians are all primarily Islamic (>70%), emigrants to Australia from these states belonged to various religious orders not proportional to their home countries' religious demographics. Most Egypt-born and Lebanon-born Australians were Christian Copts (84%) and Maronites (55%), respectively.[2] The majority of Arab Australians are overwhelmingly Lebanese, and collectively, Christian Arab Australians (including Lebanese Christian Australians together with other Christian Arab Australians) comprise a majority of Arab Australians. The proportion of Muslims was highest among immigrants from Somalia (97% of Somali Australians are Muslim) and Jordan (40% of Jordanian Australians are Muslim), followed by Syria (34% of Syrian Australians are Muslim) and Iraq (31% of Iraqi Australians are Muslim).

Arab Australians are mainly concentrated in Victoria and New South Wales. Smaller groups also reside in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, with fewer in Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.[2]


In the 2001 census, 248,807 Australian residents reported Arab ancestry. Additionally, 209,372 Australians indicated that they spoke Arabic at home. 162,283 Australian residents were born in one of the 22 Arab League nations, a proportion which represented 0.8% of Australia's population. 120,000 Australians also had a parent who was born in an Arab state.[2]

The most common countries of origin for Arab Australians were Lebanon (71,349), Egypt (33,432) and Iraq (24,832). Of these, a further 89,021 had a Lebanese-born parent and 10,296 had an Egyptian-born parent.[2] Additionally, Australia is a major tourist destination for people from the United Arab Emirates, with 14,000 Emiratis entering the country each year.[3] There is also an Emirati international student community of between 1,200 and 2,000 pupils.[4][5]

According to the AHRC, most Australian residents born in Arab nations are citizens of Australia. The citizenship take-up rate is highest among the earlier settlers, who have been established longer. 91.6% of Egypt-born residents were Australian citizens, followed by immigrants born in Lebanon (91.3%), Syria (86.2%), Somalia (70.1%), and Iraq (68.1%).[2]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Jammin' in the Middle E is an Australia drama backgrounded on the inhabitants of Western Sydney.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Price, Charles (1999). "Australian Population: Ethnic Origins" (PDF). People and Place. Monash University Centre for Population and Urban Research. 7 (2): 12–16. ISSN 1039-4788. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Ismae Report: National consultations on eliminating prejudice against Arab and Muslim Australians: Appendices" (PDF). Australian Human Rights Commission. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Australia is keen to promote Islamic finance". Khaleej Times. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  4. ^ "United Arab Emirates country brief". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  5. ^ Naseem, A. (12 December 2006). "Exploring new dimensions". Gulf News. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012.