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Arab Chileans

Notable Arab Chileans: Nicolás Massú
Total population

500,000 – 800,000

5% of Chile's population
Regions with significant populations
Valparaíso, La Serena, Santiago
Chilean Spanish, Arabic
Eastern Orthodoxy · Catholicism,
with Sunni Islam · Judaism minorities
Related ethnic groups
Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians

Arab Chileans are immigrants to Chile from the Arab world. Most are Christian and are the descendants of economic migrants from Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, who arrived in Chile in the mid-19th to early-20th centuries. Ethnically Arab Chileans are often called "Turks", (Spanish: Turcos) a term believed to derive from the fact that they arrived from the Ottoman Turkish Empire.[1] Most arrived as members of the Eastern Orthodox church, but a minority became Roman Catholic.[2] A minority are Muslim.

It is estimated that 800,000 Chileans or nearly 5% of the population is of Arab origin, chiefly descendants of immigrants from the Middle East (i.e. Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Middle East Armenians).[3] Chile is home to a large population of immigrants, mostly Christian, from the Levant.[4] Roughly 500,000 Palestinian descendants are believed to reside in Chile.[5][6] And the effects of their migration are widely visible. The earliest such migrants came in the 1850s, with others arriving during World War I and later the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Club Palestino is one of the most prestigious social clubs in Santiago.[7] They are believed to form the largest Palestinian community outside of the Arab world.[8][9] Aside from these migrants of previous decades, Chile has also taken in some Palestinian refugees in later years, as in April 2008 when they received 117 from the Al-Waleed refugee camp on the SyriaIraq border near the Al-Tanf crossing.[10] The situation in Gaza has caused tensions even thousands of miles away between the Israeli and Palestinian communities in Chile.[11]

Historically, the Arabs of Chile were called Turks, Moors, Arabs or Lebanese. In recent years they have often called themselves Palestinians.[12] In the past decade, most of the Arab immigration are Iraqis.[13]

The Christian Orthodox, built the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile in Santiago in 1917. It is a cathedral of the Church of Antioch with six parishes.[14]


  • History 1
  • Economic influence in Chile 2
  • Chilean Arab organizations 3
  • Notable Arab Chileans 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The first Arabs in Chile first registered in a census carried out dates back to 1895, however, in 1854 and 1885 are some subjects of the Ottoman Empire, which could well be in Lebanon, Palestine or Syria, which were part of the Empire at the time.

The majority of Palestinians arrived in the early 20th century, fleeing the Ottoman Empire due primarily to professing the Christian religion, oppressive rule and then the economic situation and the outbreak of the First World War. Note that the Ottoman Turkish oppression (Sunnis) was reflected not only in the Christian minority in Syria, Palestine and Lebanon, but against Shiite Muslims who arrived in the entire Atlantic coast to be the majority in the region, and some spent via Argentina to Chile in the early 20th century located across the country bringing to their culture and work to the development of Chile.

On arrival, the Arabs were devoted to work primarily in the commercial sector. The Palestinian community, despite their cultural differences with Chilean society, managed to permeate and an important part of the country's middle class, although some of its members have some of the greatest wealth of the country. Although the District Board, in Santiago and the city of La Calera were his main residence centers, meeting and trade for many years, in recent times have moved over the city of Santiago de Chile, Las Condes, Providence, Ñuñoa and Recoleta.

The large influx Arab party began in 1860 and extends until 1900. It is estimated that the Arabs who came to America reached at one million people. Until 1918 the Palestinians migrated with Turkish passports. The output ports were Beirut, Haifa and Alexandria, and the journey was made via Genoa and Marseille.

The large concentrations of immigrants were Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese and their descendants in Brazil, Argentina and Chile. It is estimated that Latin America would amount to 25 million of Arab descent.

By 1940, the Arab Guide de Chile estimated at 13,466 the number of Arabs in Chile.

61% of the Arabs arrived in our country did between 1900 and 1930. Over 60% of Arabs who came were between 10 and 30 years old [1].

In 1912 appears the Muerched, the first Chilean newspaper written in Arabic. It is estimated that there were at least 12 publications such during the 40 years of immigration.

In addition to the strong influence and varied diversity in areas of national affairs, a fact which demonstrates the presence of the Arab population in Chile, is the call for at least 7 players who were Chilean-born Palestinians (as Roberto Bishara) in the Palestinian football team during the Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2006.

Economic influence in Chile

It is the case of the Banna family: Carlos, Jorge and Amador. His father, John, emigrated in 1894 from Bethlehem and was a good move. He died in 1954, when Cotton Manufacturers lived its golden age: the company, founded in 1936 with his brothers Nicholas and Saba, it produced 60% of cotton yarn and fabrics in Chile. Its partners were the Said-Isa and his six children, among them Salvador, the father of Joseph, now a member of the Parque Arauco shopping mall-amusement park and BHIF.

Today is the fourth financial institution, with 11% of loans and returns on equity of 24%, and among the 20 largest banks in the region. In 2003 the Bank acquired Conosur at about U.S. $ 100 million.

José Said Saffie (age 72) multiplied the family fortune and is among the most affluent persons in Chile and Latin America, as owner of 21% of Parque Arauco, 16% BHIF Bank-BBVA, which concentrates 7% of loans, 25% of Andina Bottling, 30% of Factorline, factoring the fourth largest in the country, 48% of Edelpa, the largest flexible packaging and 50% of Clínica Reñaca.

In the area of the mall has invested in Argentina, where Parque Arauco owns 27% of Alto Palermo, a company that manages eight shopping centers, including Patio Bullrich and unique Market Hall.

Apart from the groups spearheading the cousins José Said Saffie, Jaime Said Demaria and his uncle, Domingo Said Kattan, there is another branch that descends from the businessman born in Bethlehem Issa Said Sahuire: that of Antonio Said Kattan, brother of Domingo. This is the only one still remains in the textile sector. At 92 years, heads Fibratex Textiles Manufacturing. It also has real estate investment and action by the Electronic Stock Exchange.

A group met in 1986 under the name of the Ten Mosques, whose history dates back to 1986. Then Carlos Abumohor called Espir Aguad, Alejandro Kauak, Munir Khamis, Selum Jorge Fernando Abuhadba and pairs of Odde Rishmague with Solomon and Domingo Díaz and Álvaro Saieh with Juan Rafael Gutiérrez (the only non-Arab) to form a bank, conscious that the textile industry was in decline.

The economic boom enjoyed by Chilean society was formed by Arab Investment, a financial firm where the individual contribution was U.S. $ 1 million. Saieh took over as manager.

Two years later, he merged the Bank of Labor, making it the third of the square. In the early 1990s formed subgroups to start new businesses. First was the purchase of AFP Provida, in 1993 - six years later sold to BBVA for U.S. $ 260 billion, where through participating INECSA Saieh only, the Diaz family, Fernando Aguad the Abumohor and Rishmague Odde.

This operation was later joined Interbanc purchases of Peru and insurance companies Mass and compensates. In 1995 was born on holding Inversiones Financieras SA (Infisa), where Saieh kept 51% of the property.

That year the Bank purchased Infisa Sonami Conception to U.S. $ 60 million to merge with Osorno. But they accepted the offer of Banco Santander: nearly $ 500 million by the Osorno. At that time Juan Gutiérrez left the group. Khamis and later emigrated Kauak.

Consolidated acquired in Venezuela and in Argentina the Buci, who later disposed of. Here AFP acquired the Union and Financial Protection and Condell. In 1997, seeking to give a new image and profile, the Concepción was renamed Infisa Corpbanca and became the holding Corpgroup.

Saieh, Abumohor, Rishmague Díaz Cumsille, Selum and remain in Corpgroup Aguad. The bag placed in holding 24.9% of Corpbanca in November 2002 and exactly one year later topped the 23% that belonged to foreign funds Blackstone Group, JP Morgan Partners and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, in addition to ADR Wall Street, to provide more liquidity to the action. This institution is the fifth of the financial system in loans, with 3.8%.

But everyone has done their part. Rishmague in 2002 consolidated his emerging regional financial holding company UCB, UCB umbrella of Financial Services, Factoring UCB, Union Credit Bank in Miami, and a significant share of Chile Corpbanca, Corpbanca Venezuela. Its assets exceed $ 100 million.

Also betting on the U.S. market, and its partners Saieh Álvaro Jorge Selum, Fernando and Alberto Aguad Muchnick - through Corpgroup Financial Services, concluded an agreement in November 2002 to buy First Western Bank of Florida, allegedly close in December. The aim is to use that entity - with assets of U.S. $ 30 million as a platform for Latin America and complement Corpgroup operations, where 51% Saieh handles.

He also leads Real Estate Andrés Bello, owner of the buildings of the university of the same name and Indisa Clinic. It is the driver of Journalism Consortium (COPES), which publishes the daily La Tercera, The Fourth, The Hours, Revista Que Pasa and Paula. There are the Abumohor family (or nicknamed el Trek for the migration of Palestinians they represented have entered the Chilean economy).

Cumsille Juan Pablo Diaz, president of the prestigious social group, Club Palestino (the Palestinian Club) in Santiago was processing a license to open in 2004 the Banco Progreso. This is a civil engineer and heir of Solomon Domingo Diaz Cautín involved in Real Estate, which leases properties in the center, and Lo Espejo Comercial who sells machinery for construction. But its strength is the leasing and factoring, through Progress Financial Services.

The Abumohor, Álvaro Saieh, Juan Pablo Diaz, Domingo Diaz, Alejandro and Juan Rafael Gutiérrez Kauak formed Cabildo SA in 1997 purchased the Hacienda Rupanco at about U.S. $ 80 million. The site, about 50 000 hectares, has 30 thousand head of cattle and is one of the leading producers of milk.

The grandfather of the early el Trek Abumohor century, but it was Zechariah - Nicholas's father, Carlos and René, who entered the textile business distributing imported clothing.

After a spinning industry, leased, bought and expanded the business to be grouped under the parent American Manufacturing (Maisa).

They are on the peninsula resorts Pucón, Puerto Velero, the Haras de Pirque and Club Balthus. In the real estate and commercial control 10% of Parque Arauco and textiles, Maisa Spinning Mills (licensee of Benetton, Esprit, Nino Mori, Arrow and New Man) Carpet and Wiener.

Munir Khamis, after selling its stake in Corpbanca embarked on the textiles. There is a partner with his cousins in Bromac SA, dedicated to the embroidered linens, children's clothing and home affairs. It also has 25% of Trama, an importer of fabrics for the clothing created in 1985.

An architect by profession, has concentrated on building projects, in Santiago and the Tenth Region, through Pacific Real Estate and Building America.

Kauak owns 10% of the tax Rupanco and livestock is a major employer. With its four fields in the X region it is an agricultural corporation and their dairy division produces about six million liters of milk a year.

This year will begin construction of a shopping center next to the group in Osorno Cordel and plans to return to the financial world, with a bank for SMEs.

Kassis Cecinas owns San Jorge and in 2002 bought Cecinas JK to his brother John, which controls about 30% of the domestic market of sausages. Participate in building projects in Peñalolén associated with Sarquis and Marcelo Zalaquett, and Las Condes.

Dr. George Manzur is nicknamed the "First Palestinian of Chile" or personality leader to represented the power and prominence of the Palestinian community, as he's involved in medical science, financial business and national politics.

Chilean Arab organizations

  • Sports: Club Deportivo Palestino, founded in 1920
  • Social Club Palestinian (1938), Bethlehem 2000 Palestinian Foundation-Chile (2001)
  • Policy: Palestinian Federation of Chile and the General Union of Palestinian Students in Chile (UGEP-Chile)
  • General Union of Palestinian Students in Chile (UGEP-Chile)
  • AJPP (Youth Association for Palestine)
  • Union Club Palestinian Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
  • Company Tenth Fire Pump Valparaíso Chilean Eduardo Arab Farley
  • Ladys Syrian Palestinian Society.
  • Arab Union Club La Calera
  • Palestine Bethlehem Foundation 2000
  • Home of Syrian-Palestinian Children
  • Palestinian Union Club de Talca
  • Palestinian Union Club of San Fernando
  • Arab Stadium Design
  • JUPAC (Youth Palestinian Concepción)
  • Palestinian Conception School
  • Palestinian College of Viña del Mar

Notable Arab Chileans

  • Arturo Salah, a Chilean former football player (Palesinian descent)
  • Sabas Chahuán - Chilean lawyer, Attorney general of Chile (Palesinian descent)
  • Alejandro Hales, politician (Jordanian descent)
  • Carlos Abumohor, businessman and investor (Palestinian descent)
  • José Said, businessman (Palestinian descent)
  • Benedicto Chuaqui Ketlun, writer (Syrian descent)
  • Yanina Halabi, model (Syrian descent)
  • Alberto Haddad, politician (Syrian descent)
  • Sergio Valech, Roman Catholic bishop (Syrian descent)
  • Sergio Bitar Chacra, politician, minister and senator (Lebanese and Syrian descent)
  • Henry Chacra Haddad, Construction businessman (Syrian descent)
  • Jorge Awad, businessman (Syrian descent)
  • Jessica Mualim Fajuri, politician (Jordanian descent)
  • Ricardo Abumohor
  • Nabih Chadud
  • Afife Docmac, journalist
  • Jorge Massoud Sarquis, businessman and politician (Syrian descent)
  • Luna Albagli, model (Syrian Jewish descent)
  • Paula Sharim
  • Nissim Sharim, actor (Syrian Jewish descent)
  • Mariana Derderián, actress (Armenian Syrian descent)
  • Miguelo Esbir, singer (Syrian descent)
  • Emily Jacir, artist
  • Miguel Littin, movie director and screenwriter
  • Álvaro Saieh, businessman
  • Raúl Hasbún, Roman Catholic priest (Palestinian descent)
  • Roberto Bishara, footballer (Palestinian descent)
  • Checho Hirane, comedy and TV host (Lebanese descent)
  • Hosaín Sabag, politician (Lebanese descent)
  • Fernando Chomalí, Roman Catholic archbishop (Lebanese descent), Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Concepción
  • Nicolás Massú, tennis player (Palestinian descent)
  • Pedro Sabat, politician (Lebanese descent)
  • Marcela Sabat, model and politician (Lebanese descent)
  • Fernando Solabarrieta Chelech, journalist, TV host (Palestinian descent)
  • Daud Gazale, footballer (Palestinian descent)
  • Pablo Zalaquett Said, politician, mayor of Santiago (Palestinian descent)
  • Francisco Chahuán, politician, senator for Valparaíso (Palestinian descent)
  • Rafael Tarud, politician (Palestinian descent)
  • Fuad Chahin, politician (Palestinian descent)

See also


  1. ^ Arab and Jewish immigrants in Latin America: images and realities, by Ignacio Klich, Jeff Lesser, 1998, p. 165.
  2. ^ In Santiago Society, No One Cares If Your Name Is Carey or de Yrarrazaval, By ENID NEMY September 14, 1969, Sunday, Arab and Jewish immigrants in Latin America.
  3. ^ Arab Chileans.
  4. ^ Arab.
  5. ^ Chile: Palestinian refugees arrive to warm welcome.
  6. ^ 500,000 descendientes de primera y segunda generación de palestinos en Chile.
  7. ^ Holston, Mark (2005-11-01), "Orgullosos palestinos de Chile", Américas,  
  8. ^ Un chileno "da la pelea por Palestina."
  9. ^ "Los palestinos miran con esperanza su futuro en Chile sin olvidar Gaza e Irak", El Economista, 2009-02-11, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  10. ^ Henríquez, Andrea (2008-03-31), "Chile recibirá a refugiados palestinos", BBC World, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  11. ^ Aguirre, Leslie; Prieto, M. Francisca (2008-12-29), """Palestinos e israelíes en Chile: La situación en Gaza es una "pena, El Mercurio, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  12. ^ So far from Allah, so close to Mexico: Middle Eastern immigrants in modern Mexico, Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, University of Texas Press, 2007, p. 14.
  13. ^ (Spanish) Arab immigration.
  14. ^ Antiochian Orthodox of Santiago to Chile.

External links

  • Comunidad árabe en Chile
  • Unión General de Estudiantes Palestinos de Chile
  • Comerciante palestino en Patronato An article from the Corporación del Patrimonio Cultural de Chile.
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