The Arab Games were the brainchild of Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, the first General Secretary of the Arab League, serving from 1945-1952. In 1947, Azzam submitted a memorandum to the League, advocating a multi-sport tournament that involved the participation of all Arab countries. According to Azzam, sport could serve as the best way to connect the youth of Arab countries and enable them to build the future of the Arab identity.
However, the Arab Games concept did not gain official approval until 1953, when Eng. Ahmed El Demerdash Touny, an Egyptian national and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), managed to convince the concerned parties within the Arab League that an Arab Games tournament would be instrumental to the overall success of the Arab identity.
In response to Touny’s proposal, the Arab League agreed on establishing the Arab Games, and Egypt became the first country to organise an Arab Games tournament. It was held in the scenic and culturally rich city of Alexandria from 26 July-10 August, 1953 with eight Arab nations competing in the inaugural tournament.
Since then 11 editions of the Arab Games have been held in various Arab cities, the last being in 2007 in Cairo, Egypt. It earned widespread praise for its organisation, technical management and quality of participants. Women first competed in the 1985 Arab Games held in Rabat, Morocco.
This year, Arab Games Doha 2011 presents a unique opportunity for countries in the Arab world to come together through their sporting excellence. As a favourite pastime of young individuals, sporting tournaments encourage them to reach out across boundaries, bond with fellow Arabs and eliminate differences among them. The youth of the entire Arab world was eager to gather for an annual tournament to be held in Arab cities. From then onwards, the youth of Arab nations began to look forward to the Arab Games as a means of uniting them on sporting, social and spiritual platforms while igniting and encouraging a competitive spirit amongst athletes and communities alike.
The Arab Game-s will bring together around 12,000 delegates including 8,000 athletes and 3,000 administrators, team officials, journalists, senior Arab sport officials, and guests.
Today evening 09-December-2011, HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani will declare the Arab Games Doha 2011 open at the Khalifa Stadium, marking a historic moment not just for prosperous and peaceful Qatar but also for the thousands of athletes from countries in the Middle East and Africa dreaming of a bright future after months of conflict and uncertainty.
This will be the first time the Games are coming to the GCC region, almost six decades after they were launched in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1953, with 657 athletes from nine countries in 10 sports.
The opening ceremony begins at 7pm and will include cultural presentations, the traditional athletes’ march and a sound and light show that features technology never used at any sports event before, organisers said yesterday. And indeed, going with the current mood in the region, the extravaganza has been centred around the themes of dignity and hope as Qatar begins a fortnight-long celebration of Arab pride and identity, although the organisers insisted that the 12th edition of the Games was all about sports and nothing else.
“I’m so proud as Qatar Resident to see and watch this games success ! “