MGM Detroit hosts fundraiser for Arab American National Museum

MGM Detroit hosts fundraiser for Arab American National Museum
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MGM Detroit hosts fundraiser for Arab American National Museum

The Arab American National Museum celebrates t...

The Arab American National Museum celebrates the history of Arab Americans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shine. Dine. Dance. That’s how proud, enthusiastic Arab Americans and community supporters will celebrate Arab heritage and raise money for a one-of-a-kind national cultural institution on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 in downtown Detroit.

The Grand Gala is the 11th annual fundraiser for the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in Dearborn, the only museum in the United States to focus on Arab Americans and draw attention to the shared experiences of all immigrants. Since 2004 – prior to the May 2005 opening of the AANM – this important event has been the Museum’s single-largest source of unrestricted funding. It is presented by the Friends of the AANM, a group of highly accomplished women based in southeast Michigan that is co-chaired by Dr. Lina Dirani and Mrs. Maha Jano. View a complete list of Friends Committee members at

This year, for the first time, the MGM Grand Hotel, 1777 Third St. in Detroit, will serve as the gala venue, enhancing the festive atmosphere for this widely anticipated social event. A 6:30 p.m. cocktail hour leads to a 7:30 p.m. sit-down meal, with live performances by a pair of beloved vocalists, Vatche and Usama Baalbaki (see artist biographies below and photos attached). Dress code is black tie optional; cultural and creative attire welcomed.

Tickets for The Grand Gala are $250 and $500 and include valet parking. The $500 ticket also includes admission to a private Benefactor Reception at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, with guest of honor Sameh Wadi, celebrity chef and co-owner of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Minneapolis and creator of the Spice Trail spice blends line for home cooks. In 2010, at age 25, Wadi became the youngest chef to compete on the Food Network program The Iron Chef. He is a multiple nominee and semi-finalist for the James Beard Award.

The Grand Gala is open to the public; tickets are available online at Sponsorship of The Grand Gala is also available; contact Nissrine Hussein at 313.842.2728 or for details.

Spanning no fewer than eight languages, Vatche’s repertoire is an ongoing ode to the love song without borders. Since recording his debut album in 1983 in Los Angeles, Vatche has gone on to become a pop icon of international stature, earning a cross-generational fan base throughout the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. His success is attributed to a softly modulating, seductive voice, and an astonishingly effortless stylistic versatility, but what truly sets Vatche’s work apart from today’s other world music interpreters is his signature sonic sensuality. Whether built on a Top-40 French hit, an Italian classic, a Greek standard or an Arabic folk tune, a Vatche song is unmistakably a Vatche song. When his first album was released, Vatche was the most-booked, top-selling Armenian singer in California. Within a few short years, he appeared at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with an 11-piece band and a dance troupe. Vatche continues to appear in Las Vegas as part of his international touring schedule.

Usama Baalbaki
Born in Kuwait to Lebanese parents, Usama Baalbaki discovered his musical passion at age eight, when he began to study accordion and oud and started performing on a famous children’s TV and radio show. Based in Michigan since 1987, Baalbaki is now recognized as a charistmatic Arabic singer, traveling with his band throughout the U.S., Canada and South America. Career highlights include his chairmanship of and performing residency at the National Arab Orchestra, and sharing the stage with Tony Bennett at the St. Jude’s 50th Anniversary Concert in Memphis. Baalbaki is a member of the Arab Theatrical Arts Guild and portrayed legendary vocalist Mohammed Abdel Wahab in the play“Rasasa Fi Al Qalb” by Tawfik Alhakim. He was honored with the 2000 AMAL Award from ANA Radio & Television for his accomplishments in original song, composition and performance.


The Arab American National Museum (AANM) documents, preserves and presents Arab American history, culture and contributions.

The AANM is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums; an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution; and a founding member of the Immigration and Civil Rights Network of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under and Museum Members, free.

Visit or call 313.582.2266 for further information.


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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and for, and

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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