A large number of people with Arab origins have over time settled in the state of Gujarat in India, primarily due to the proximity of Arabia to India. They now form one of the large communities Muslim in that state. They are also known as Chavuse, especially in Saurashtra. In Gujarat the term Arab strictly refers to families that came in the 17th, 18th and 19th Century from the Arabian Peninsula, and does not include the Sayyid and Shaikh communities, who also claim an Arab origin.
Some of the Arabs of Gujarat claim to have come from Sindh, while others claim to have from the Hadhramaut region of Yemen. During the 18th Century, when the Gujarat region was divided into a number of states, many Arabs were recruited by the various rajahs for their armed forces. Arabs soldiers made a large part of the armies of Bhavnagar and Jamnagar states. During the early twentieth century, the Arabs abandoned Arabic for Urdu.1
The Arabs are now found in the districts of Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Panchmahal and Surat. They are divided in 169 clans, but generally divided into groups, the Hejazi, originating from Saudi Arabia, and the Hadhramis from Yemen. Their main clans are the Akvon, Acari, Ansari, Anuj, Kathiri, and Qureshi. Each clan is of equal status, but the Qureshis are accorded seniority on account of the fact that they were the tribe of the Prophet Mohammad.1
The Arab community is mainly landless. Military and security services in the armies of the states of Jamnagar, Junagadh and Bhavnagar was their traditional occupation. They are now mainly in urban community, and have taken up a number of professional occupations such as the law and medicine. A significant numbers have also emigrated to the Arab Persian Gulf states such as the Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The community have a caste association, the Akhil Gujarat Arab Samaj, which is active in community affairs. They are SunniMuslims, with a few belonging to the Wahabi sect. The community have remained strictly endogamous, with virtually no cases of intermarriage with neighbouring Gujarati Muslim communities.1