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“The Arabic language and shared aspects of our culture tie the Arab world together”

April 2024: Jarrah Al-Buainain is an associate in the Technology Transactions Practice, in White & Case's Global M&A practice and Global IP practice in New York. He is also co-chair of our Middle Eastern and North African affinity network.

As part of our celebrations of Arab-American History Month, he explains the significance of this event for him and his own relationship with Arab culture.

I had an international upbringing, but my "Arab-ness" remained constant

I was born in Saudi Arabia and also spent much of my childhood in Japan and Switzerland. I moved to New York for college more than 15 years ago and consider the City home. Throughout my moves to vastly different cultures and environments, it was my "Arab-ness" that remained constant.

My Arab values have helped me at every stage

It was through compassion, empathy, hospitality and generosity—a very Arab set of values that my parents instilled in me from a young age—that I was able to quickly and easily make connections with others and adapt to my surroundings without shrinking my identity.

Community and solidarity are part and parcel of being Arab

They are two aspects of Arabic culture that I love. Even though the Arab world spans many different countries across continents and includes various religions, the Arabic language and shared aspects of our culture tie the Arab world together in a beautiful way. I find comfort in knowing that this kind of unity exists in a part of the world that unfortunately has been riddled with decades of war and conflict.

Arabs are responsible for major contributions to civilization...

This includes mathematics, where we invented algebra, the number zero and the decimal system.

... and to culture, especially film culture

I grew up watching black & white Egyptian films with my mother, often far past my bedtime. Whenever I had a hard time sleeping when I was young, I would sneak into the living room to watch with her. It was our little secret ritual. This may explain why I'm passionate about film and cinema.

Arab filmmakers are increasingly producing incredible films and documentaries, and I try to attend screenings of Arab-produced films whenever I have the chance, whether that's locally or at film festivals. These films usually have themes that resonate with me on a personal level as an Arab. I also feel an immense sense of pride seeing Arab artists receive the recognition they deserve, so I try to support their work.

Many Arab-Americans find it easier to minimize their ethnicity

Especially in a climate where anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments are increasingly prevalent, I hope that Arabs across this country know and always remember that they come from a magnificent part of the world, keep their head up high and take pride in their roots.