12th Portland Arab ‘Mahrajan Festival’ again in East Portland

INCLUDES FESTIVAL VIDEO | This was the place to go for thousands of Arab Americans from all over the region, as well as from outer East Portland; with the public welcome as well …

Families gathering for the 12th Portland Arab Mahrajan Festival tour the exhibits and vendors area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

All day long on Sunday, September 3, historic and nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park – and especially the Outdoor Pavilion, and tree-lined picnic area – swirled with activity as the 12th Portland Arab Mahrajan Festival was underway.

The air was filled with sounds of Middle Eastern music, the sight of colorful traditional clothing, and the mouth-watering aroma of food cooking, as Arabs and the general public alike enjoyed the day’s events, put on by the Arab American Cultural Center (AACC).

One of those welcoming guests to the Mahrajan is Arab American Cultural Center President Nadia Dahab.

“At this annual event, we bring together all the aspects of Arab culture that we want our community to understand, and be part of,” explained one of its organizers, and AACC  President, Nadia Dahab.

In fact, “Mahrajan” is an Arabic word for “celebration” or “Festival”, Dahab pointed out.

Take a look, and you’ll see some of the activities of this year’s Mahrajan:

“Yes, it is a festival for us to celebrate all of the ties that bind us together,” Dahab told East Portland News. “And, at the same time, we also invite the greater Portland community in to celebrate with us, and to learn about our culture, and gain a better understanding of our traditions.”

Singer and entertainer Ahmed El Mansouri, performing to live music.

If this year’s attendance were to be similar to that of last year’s festival, they expected to host about 3,000 guests over the course of the day, said Dahab.

With both live and recorded music as a backdrop, guests browsed the vendors, and visited booths staffed by representatives from nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies.

Huha Alnaisani and her son Harith Alnaisani were at the grill, preparing authentic Middle Eastern cuisine.

And, everyone dined on the fresh Middle East food, cooked at Oaks Park by trained chefs from local establishments.

“When people of differing cultures learn about each other – including the different aspects of our culture; and sharing our ethnic backgrounds, and the places from which we come – we find that we are a lot alike,” Dahab observed. “I think it helps build a more cohesive community.”

Hala Gores, of the Gores Law Firm, and the first AACC Board President, shows one of the traditional Arabian dresses, passed down through generations.

Asked the best part of this event, for her, Dahab responded, “With part of my family from Libya, this is the time when I really get to connect with people from my family, and people from my culture, and people like me.”

Learn more about the Arab American Cultural Center by visiting their official website: CLICK HERE.

>> On our Front Page: Entertaining the crowd at the 12th Portland Arab Mahrajan Festival with her belly dancing is Bevin Victoria

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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