June 12, 2024

The Third Annual Arab Fest presented authentic culture to the community

The Arab American Club of Knoxville brought a taste of culture to the University of Tennessee with samples of food, dance and art.

On Friday Oct. 21, The Arab American Club of Knoxville, students and members of the surrounding community joined on Pedestrian Walkway for the Third Annual Arab Fest.

There were many tents set up, each with a variety of activities for passersby to participate in. There was authentic food from Syria, Arabic coffee, henna art and different styles of traditional dress for people to see, as well.

During the course of the events, there was a dance recital where some of the community’s Arabic youth danced to the style of dabke. Yasmin, a Palestinian native, gave some insight on the style of dance.

“This traditional style of dance is done in many Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, Palestine and Syria.”
Yasmin also mentioned that all of the young dancers’ parents were born in the Middle East. Once they moved to America, their parents wanted their children to still be familiar with the culture, so they put them in Arabic style dance classes.

Under one of the many tents were Brittney and Omar Yousif, the owners of the popular restaurant, Mirage, that is located on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. The workers, who are Catholic refugees from Iraq, say they are proud of their culture and glad to be sharing it with a new crowd.

Mirage serves authentic Middle Eastern food and also has traditional belly dancers on Friday and Saturday nights.

“You can tell people really enjoy events like this. It not only meshes American culture with Arabic culture, but it brings in a variety of different people. I truly got a taste of Arab culture today,” said Lisa Allen, a UT student who attended the festival.

Arab Fest continues on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 12-5 p.m. You can find more information on the event’s Facebook page.

Featured Image by Kelly Fallon

Edited by Katy Hill

Correction: A previous edition of this story said the workers from Mirage are from Syria. They are Iraqi Catholic refugees.

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