CubaPLUS Magazine

House of the Arab: the Thousand and One Nights in Havana

By: Alina Veranes, photos Habana Radio
Nov 25, 2022
House of the Arab: the Thousand and One Nights in Havana

At number 114 of the old Oficios street, in the Historic Center of Havana, the Casa del Árabe has been operating since 1983, a cultural establishment often ignored for its high value, dedicated to disseminating customs, history, and beauty of the Arab world.

Islamic and linked through migration to some extent, this house relates to life in the largest of the Antilles. Apart from the service of a restaurant specializing in dishes from that fascinating world, visiting its exhibition halls is a gift for the senses and knowledge that will make us experience sensations at a time when we loved the stories of the Thousand and One Nights.

Highly recommended then are the Arms Rooms, with exhibits of authentic sabers and daggers from the 18th and 19th centuries, covered in gold and silver and finely ornamented, the Souk room or merchandise, one of the international symbols of that resplendent culture, the Romantic, the Emigrant, and the Prayers, which offers religious services to the believers of the Koran, in the appropriate conditions for that creed.

Many of the customs, traditions, art, architecture, and the study of the Arab presence in Cuba, are enhanced in the institution located in a colonial building that has nothing to do with the architectural point of view of the predominant culture in the East

In Cuba there is no established Arab community, there are only families made up of descendants of former migrants, who did not reach a very large flow in our country either, but who did integrate harmoniously into our lives. The entity is surely already recovering from the effects of the pandemic and will restore the vigor of its very attractive cycles of exhibitions, concerts, conferences, dance performances, and postgraduate courses.

They also provide a service to the community by caring for older adults and children in need. The collection of Arab furniture dating from the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, manufactured mainly in Spain, is among the most admired heritage values, like some pieces that belonged to the sublime Cuban writer Dulce María Loynaz and her family, donated after her trips to Egypt, Turkey, and Palestine.

A strange and symbolic Rose of the desert, a calcareous formation sculpted by the sands, similar to a flower, that you will observe there will invite you to return again since it is evident that only a visit to that Arab micro world installed in Old Havana will induce you without remedy to repeat the experience.

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