Unlike Black British or Asian British, the term British Arab was not one of those employed in government ethnicity categorisations used in the 2001 UK Census and for national statistics. As a result, community members are believed to have been under-counted in previous population estimates according to the National Association of British Arabs (NABA).
This absence of a separate "Arab" category in the UK census obliged many to select other ethnicity categories. In the late 2000s, the British government announced that an "Arab" ethnicity category would be added to the 2011 UK Census for the first time. The decision came at the request of the National Association of British Arabs and other Arab organizations, who lobbied for the inclusion of a separate "Arab" entry to accommodate under-reported groups from the Arab world.
As a result, 240,545 British Arabs were reported in the 2011 Census in England and Wales. In NABA's report on the 2011 Census, it broke down answers from the Ethnic Write-In Responses that NABA classifies as Arab, namely "Arab", "African Arab", "White and Arab", "Moroccan", "North African", "Other Middle East", "Somali", "Somalilander" or "White and North African". It also notes that how many of the individual identities responded in the general "Arab" box is uncertain, so there may be some overlap in the numbers. This totaled 366,769 Arabs in England and Wales. Around 110,000 reside in London.
"British Arabs" is used as an official ethnic designation by the National Association of British Arabs. It is also employed by academics, and in the media.
As of 2011, the National Association of British Arabs estimates that there are around 366,769 first and second generation British Arabs. The majority originate from Somalia (99,484 or 0.2%), Iraq (70,426 or 0.1%), Egypt (28,927 or 0.1%), Saudi Arabia (29,076 or 0.1%), and Morocco (21,016 or >0.1%). Most live in the Greater London area, and many are either businesspeople, recent immigrants or students. There are also sizable and long-established Yemeni Arab communities living in Cardiff and the South Shields area near Newcastle.
A diverse community, British Arabs are represented in the business and media fields, among other areas. Miladi (2006)'s survey of 146 community members during the summer of 2001 reported Al-Jazeera as being the respondents' preferred news outlet. Reasons supplied for the selection included the quality of the station's programs and transmission, its discussion of current issues in the Arab world, and the possibility of giving voice to the community's concerns and positions on various matters.
Additionally, 2010 was a breakthrough year in terms of political participation. Several British Arabs ran for and/or were appointed to office as community representatives.