Timeline: Arab immigration into Europe

Arab immigration into Europe – from the Umayyad Caliphate to Germany’s 2017 payouts to refugees volunteering to go home.

''Open borders'' rally in Munich

2017 saw Europe’s refugee crisis apparently fizzling out. 

Up until December 19 of this year, 168,982 refugees and immigrants arrived in Europe by sea.  

That is substantially less than 2016, when a total of 362,753 people took the sea route to Europe. And for 2015, the number was more than one million. 

This drop in part reflects European efforts to stem the flow of immigrants and refugees reaching its shores, which include a deal with Turkey to send back immigrants arriving on Greek islands, fences put up in central European countries and support for the Libyan coast guard. 

But throughout 2017, a political backlash to the influx of immigrants into Europe was still being felt. 

Germany’s elections on September 24, 2017, saw the populist far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party enter German parliament as the third-biggest party – with immigration being its number one issue.

Far-right parties campaigning on anti-immigrant sentiments made gains in parliamentary elections in Austria and the Netherlands. In France’s presidential elections, Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front made it to the run-off vote against eventual winner Emmanuel Macron

Europe’s refugee crisis peaked in 2015, when more than one million refugees applied for asylum in Europe – 363,000 of them Syrian. Most of them ended up in Germany, which in August 2015 said that all Syrians were welcome to stay. 

But the arrival of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Arabs in Germany has not been without problems: Germany’s warm welcome cooled considerably after New Year’s Eve 2015, when young men said to be Arab were accused of robbing and attacking German women in Cologne.

Al Jazeera documentary The New Germans examines Germany’s reception of new Arab immigrants and its longterm pursuit of Arab immigrants as a demographic strategy. 

But Germany is not the only country in Europe that has relied on Arab immigrants to fill demands in the labour market since the 19th century. 

This timeline charts some key movements of Arabs into Europe throughout the centuries.

Source: Al Jazeera