Posted on May 30, 2017

In celebration of the fourth annual Immigrant Heritage Month, AAI is continuing our "Together We Came" campaign to highlight outstanding Arab American immigrants and their descendants who have had an indelible impact on the vibrancy of our nation. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we celebrate immigrants and share their stories. In times of bigotry and fear, these stories remind us that the United States is a nation defined by diversity and the contributions of countless immigrants from all over the world.

From creating the first artificial heart to sending the shuttle into space, the Arab American community has been an important part of our country’s growth and success.  Click here to share your own immigrant story or email it to us at

2017 Immigrant Heritage Month Portraits

Tony_Fadell_2_.jpgTony Fadell

Known as one of the “fathers of the iPod,” Fadell is a gadget whiz. A product designer, entrepreneur, and investor, Fadell is a one of the most revolutionary innovators in Silicon Valley. But Fadell didn’t skyrocket directly to the Silicon Valley big leagues—in fact, he only had $400 in his pocket when he moved from Michigan to California in the early ‘90s. Read more...

Abdullah_Hammoud.jpgAbdullah Hammoud

He's young. He's passionate. He's committed to public service. And you can even find him on Snapchat. Meet Michigan State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn). Representing the state’s 15th district, Hammoud is a proactive legislator and consistent advocate for the people of Michigan. Read more...


Zainab_Salbi.jpgZainab Salbi

“You must be independent. You must be strong. You must not let anyone touch you or talk to you in the wrong way.” These are the words that Zainab Salbi’s mother told her while growing up in Sadam Hussein’s Iraq. And these are the words that remained with Salbi when she grew up to become one of the most fearless and influential humanitarians in the world. Read more...

Huda_Zoghbi.jpg Huda Zoghbi

For Dr. Huda Zoghbi, taking risks is key to understanding who she is, her approach to science and her research. Born in Lebanon in 1955, Dr. Zoghbi is a neurology and pediatric neurology physician who is renowned for her work on genetics and neuroscience. Growing up in Beirut, she spent much of her youth pursuing literature and had a passion for Shakespeare. But it was her mother that told her medicine was a “much simpler career” and encouraged her to study biology setting her on a path toward the medical field. Her father was a businessman that made olive oil and sold soaps but who loved to read and always encouraged learning in their household. Read more...


Alia Shawkat

"I used to be less outspoken. But as a woman, an Arab-American, and a member of the LGBTQ community, I have to use whatever voice I have. There's no more delicacy in being quiet.”

This is how Alia Shawkat explains her newfound sense personal agency, telling Out Magazine that she has recently come to terms with using her voice as a queer Arab American. She feels that this agency is reflected in her career as an actress and artist. Read more...

Hisham_Matar_2_.jpgHisham Matar

Matar was born in New York, grew up in Tripoli and Cairo, and now lives in England. Hisham’s father, Jaballa Matar, opposed the Gaddafi regime and when Hisham was young his entire family fled to Cairo to avoid political persecution. It was during one of early days in Cairo that Matar remembers hearing the words of the one of the most influential books to his life and writing career. He was at his home in Cairo, which was filled with Libyan political dissidents as it often was, when someone read aloud passages from a book. The words relayed the thoughts of a man, and Matar recalls the writing as honest and the words as illustrating. Read more...

Ray_LaHood_official_portrait.jpgRay LaHood

Back in 1895, LaHood’s grandparents left their small village of Aitou, Lebanon in search of a better future. The couple settled in Peoria, Illinois, a little over 150 miles southwest of Chicago. Commenting on his grandparents’ decision to settle in Peoria, LaHood acknowledges the seemingly random choice, stating “The only thing that we can figure out is that, when they came through Ellis Island, they didn’t particularly like New York. And the train stopped in Peoria. I mean, we can’t think of any other reason. Can you?” Thanks to immigrants like LaHood’s grandparents and the grandparents of Randy Couri, Peoria established a large Arab American community and helped to enrich the culture of the small, Midwest city. Read more...


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Together We Came Archives:

2016 Immigrant Heritage Month Portraits

2015 Immigrant Heritage Month Portraits

2014 Immigrant Heritage Month Portraits