From fashion site #1:
high-quality/unique coffee-making tools
gourmet salt (lots of solid gourmet foods will work, too)
If you let your Arab looking friend carry it for you then you are right there will be absolutely no problem. An old white lady or a child carrying this would have a boot on their throat in an instant.
Local wines (you should be able to fly with two bottles)
Only if he's checking luggage, and I hope he's not for a weekend away.
In state we are allowed three check in bags free so I rarely travel light.
My last flight back from Anchorage (but not up) they boarded people without carry on bags first. I had never heard of this before even when I worked in operations for an airlines but I assume that the amount of carry on bags are getting to be a problem in some way.
That still leaves chocolate(s) or LShieldes's suggestion to buy them dinner.
A thank you card and gift certificate/ or gift card.
Thanks for all of your suggestions! I opted for a handwritten thank you note and buying them dinner. It worked out perfectly because my buddy's wife had picked out a restaurant where she had always wanted to eat. That was a nice touch!