Arabs, along with Europeans and Japanese, were one of the main immigrant groups to São Paulo. The first generation dedicated themselves to commerce. In 2011, due to conflicts in the Middle East, more immigrants came. Since then, 2,000 more Syrians now reside in the city, according to the Federal Police. People like Hafez, who shows his work at the Arab Festival in Brás, among the food stands. Incidentally, Arab food has become a traditional cuisine in the city. Restaurants serving shawarmas (rolled sandwiches), kibbeh, and sfihas, such as Talal al-Tinawi, have multiplied. Having arrived in 2013, the engineer was able to open his first house, named after him, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign online. Today he has two locations.
In the neighborhood of Pinheiros in the city’s west zone, the big attractions are sweets like halawi, made from sesame seeds. At Damas, Khaldoun Mourad serves culinary treats that he learned to make from his mother. Speaking in coarse Portuguese, he offers a Middle Eastern version of Brazilian coffee – which fills the room with the scent of cardamom.
Damas — Rua Cônego Eugênio Leite, 764, Pinheiros
Arab Festival — Rua Elisa Withacker. Saturday: 3 pm to 10 pm. Sunday: 10 am to 10 pm.