Edgware Road is a taste of Arabia in the City of Westminster

Edgware Road, north of Hyde Park, has had Arab visitors since the late 19th century but it was in the 1970s when the big influx came.

Arabs in London's Edgware Road were unperturbed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' safety warning. Stephen Lock for The National
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LONDON // If you want a view from the city’s very own “Arab Street”, head to Edgware Road.

Shisha cafes, 24-hour Lebanese restaurants and, until this year, shops stocked with the stimulant khat have long characterised this lively street. Arab visitors began arriving in the late 19th century, the City of Westminster says.

But the big influx started in the 1970s and was fuelled by the Arabian Gulf oil boom, civil war in Lebanon and unrest in Algeria.

Edgware Road has been the first point of call for many newcomers to London, said Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding.

“From the 1970s, a lot of Arabs visited Edgware Road and then percolated out to other areas of London,” Mr Doyle said.

The street was packed with Arabian Gulf visitors as usual on Wednesday, despite a UAE warning that it was among the “most dangerous” areas of London.

That did not worry Hassan Al Shammari, 14, from Kuwait.

Hassan said he felt comfortable on Edgware Road. “Sometimes I go home at 2am. When I walk through the streets I feel safe.

Hassan’s father Ali, 45, was a little more wary of visiting London after the two violent attacks on UAE citizens in April.

Ali said his friend lost £1,000 (Dh6,080) to a scam in which criminals target users of ATMs, pretending to be police. “But if there are people around, it’s OK.