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SE Michigan News

11th Annual Arab American Festival Another Success

Dearborn—June 18—Friday, Saturday and Sunday, thousands of Michigan residents thronged to Dearborn to ride carnival rides, play games, and listen to powerful music jams.

This annual festival is always the single best time of the year for Muslims to attend an event at which covered women will feel comfortable for their huge numbers, where it is a common sight to see even young children who are covered, and at which the culture of Arabs is celebrated through music, social interaction, and play. At the risk of overstatement, the Annual Festival is like 3 days of Disney Land in a beautiful Middle Eastern country. This year was no exception.

As usual, 12 blocks of Warren Ave. were blocked off for 3 days to make room for about 25 amusement-park rides, a covered bazaar area, a raised stage on which musical performers provided entertainment, and stalls at which various kinds of Middle Eastern and American food could be bought. Thousands of people filled the streets on Saturday—so much so that the wait for the various rides (including among many others bumper cars, roller coasters, and a ferris wheel) was comparable to that at famous mainstream amusement parks like Cedar Point. On Sunday, fewer people came to Dearborn. Still, there was a 5 to 10 minute wait for most rides and there was plenty of company for those who had made the trip. People stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the covered bazaar area—filled with all kinds of vendors who seemed very happy for having made the investment in renting their booths.

Attendance at the event, of course, was free. Rides cost from $2 to $4 each, with day passes available for $20 per child.

Many famous vendors rented booths at the event, including Comcast, Ford, GM, ACCESS, the US Army, Western Union, and many many more. The sponsors list, as usual, was incredibly impressive, filling a huge wall with the logos of companies whose names are household words—all of whom had made an effort to gain access to the valuable market of Michigan Arabs and to show support for diversity and multicultural togetherness.

The event was founded eleven years ago by the Arab American Chamber of Commerce in association with other organizations, most notably ACCESS, which was also well-represented by senior staff members at the carnival.

The logistics of the event were perfectly professional, a testament to the organizational competence of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce. Security was very tight, with patrols by police and by many other people who wore blue “Security” T-shirts and prevented any disturbances. Port-a-potties were close at hand, providing sufficient, if rudimentary, facilities for carnival-goers. The schedule of events and a map of booths was available in advance, and the event was publicized, to the extent necessary, by well-worn channels like ACCESS’s email notification.

Store-keepers from the closed area of Warren did a brisk business from all of the foot-traffic generated by the festival, some of them even maintaining booths outdoors among the carnival-goers. The carnival rides seemed safe and well-maintained. The main danger was to the wallets of the participants—from the carnival games. Any kind of food (from halal hot dogs to cola to pizza to falafel) was available for the buying, with enough vendors to provide friendly and healthy competition.

Some especially notable events took place at the 11th Arab Festival, including the American record—despite furious planning and effort the world record was beyond reach this year—debke circle. The debke is a traditional Arab folkdance.

Michigan Islamic State Conference at DT Unity Center

Detroit—June 17—This weekend on Friday and Saturday, the Detroit Unity Center hosted the second annual “Michigan Islamic State Conference” designed to highlight Islamic finance, business development, and personal wealth building.

The event had a lively and heart warming power that was out of proportion to the number of people in attendance. Friday, there was a series of “open mike” performances by singers, poets, and even an Islamic fashion show which Imam El-Amin humbly participated in as a model.

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