New U.S. Census Bureau data shows for the first time, people of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry make up the majority of Dearborn’s population, 54.5%.
“I think it’s probably closer to 70%, just based on the fact if you look at the population of Dearborn Public Schools,” said Center for Arab Narratives Director Matthew Jaber Stiffler.
According to the data, people of Lebanese descent make up the majority of the Middle Eastern population, followed by people of Yemeni ancestry.
The 2020 census was the first one to specifically solicit Middle Eastern or North African ancestry responses.
“It is very important because, for many decades, our community was just lumped in under the white racial category,” Stiffler said. “So we never had any idea of how many of us actually were there, especially in Metro Detroit.”
In 2021, Dearborn elected its first Arab American Mayor, Abdullah Hammoud.
The city is home to the first and only museum dedicated to the Arab American experience, the Arab American National Museum.
“What we’ve seen recently in the last 20 years is the community has really transformed the cultural landscape of Dearborn, not only with signs in Arabic everywhere, but just the amount of restaurants and grocery stores and butcher shops and bakeries,” Stiffler said.
Rawad Asfahani owns a business in Dearborn.
“It is like the true reflection of the American dream, just people accepting each other and getting along with each other. And we’re always out here supporting each other’s businesses,” said Asfahani.
Michigan is home to the country’s second largest Middle Eastern population, behind California.