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The Arabs on board the Titanic have a story waiting to be told

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This month marks the 107th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic in the early morning of 15 April, 1912.

Only 706 passengers survived from among the estimated 2,223 passengers and crew — exact figures are disputed — who were on board the ship during its maiden voyage to New York. Hollywood film director and producer James Cameron made a movie about the voyage that premiered in November 1997; Titanic became the second movie at the time to cross the $2 billion gross threshold demonstrating how popular the story was.

Of course, the world fell in love with the fictionalised romanticism of the RMS Titanic that Cameron selected to present, but not to the reality. Like millions of people around the world, I had not only heard about the sinking of the ship, but also watched Cameron’s fictional account starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

I remember being surprised that Cameron included a 6 second scene in his movie that drew attention to a little-known fact about the Titanic tragedy: there were Arab passengers on board the doomed vessel. The scene in question showed an Arab man, his wife and two children trying to figure out where to go as the ship alarms blared in the background. The woman yells “Yalla, Yalla” as DiCaprio and Winslet rush past holding hands.

When I saw this, I wanted to know more. As an Arab American, it was one of the few times that I had been........

© Middle East Monitor