Supriya Ghosh

Arab Haitians

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Arab Haitians are Haitian citizens of Arab ethnic. In Haiti, there are a sizable number of Haitians that are of Middle-Eastern ancestry or trace their origins to Arab descendants. Hadrami and Levantine Arabic ancestry can be found within the Arab Haitian community known in Arabic as Bilad al-Sham, primarily Lebanon and Syria.



The first Arab immigrants to arrive in Haiti reached the shores of the Caribbean country during the middle to late 19th century. During the time, Haiti's business sector was dominated by German and Italian immigrants. Many of them migrated to the countryside where they peddled and were very informal economically speaking. World War I, which took place when Lebanon was part of the Germany-allied Ottoman Empire, triggered a Lebanese migration to the Americas, with Haiti receiving a large number of Lebanese immigrants. Haiti received a score of Palestinian refugees during the Arab-Israeli War. The country was estimated to have about 257,000 residents of Arab heritage, about 68% of them are mixed-race, mainly mixing with the Haitian mulatto elite.

Social relations

Arab Haitians are commonly considered as part of the upper class within Haitian society, yet they maintain their own unique presence separate from the very influential and much larger mixed-race and white Haitian populace. For years, they were shunned by the elite mulatto Haitians because of amicable interaction with the poor masses, their willingness to do business with masses and their inability to speak French. This relationship changed gradually over the years as their prominence grew in Haiti's business sector and consequently, a large percentage of them reside and do business in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Middle-class Arab Haitians often are the owners of many of the city's supermarkets.

Notable Arab Haitians

  • André Apaid Jr., American-born tycoon (Lebanese descent)
  • André Apaid Sr., businessman and political activist who was a strong supporter of Jean-Claude Duvalier (Lebanese descent)
  • Antoine Izméry, murdered wealthy businessman and political activist (Palestinian descent)
  • Claude Apaid, brother of André Apaid Sr. and owner of the computer company that has secured the government contract to supply voting machines in Haiti (Lebanese descent)
  • Issa el Saieh, musician, paint artist, and mini-jazz band leader (Palestinian descent)
  • Jessie Al-Khal, manager for the compas band T-Vice; mother of Roberto Martino and Reynaldo Martino (Lebanese descent)
  • John Boulos, professional soccer player
  • Nathalie Handal, award-winning poet, writer, and playwright (Palestinian descent)
  • Pierrot Al-Khal, renowned musician for compas band, Les Gypsies de Pétion-Ville (Lebanese descent)
  • Robert Malval, Prime Minister of Haiti (1993-1994) (Lebanese descent)
  • Samir Mourra, businessman and 2006 Haitian Presidential candidate (Syrian descent)
  • Reynaldo Martino, singer, composer and maestro for the popular compas band, T-Vice (partial Lebanese descent)
  • Roberto Martino lead singer and guitarist/composer for the popular compas band, T-Vice (partial Lebanese descent)
  • References

    Arab Haitians Wikipedia

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