The Arab Games (Arabic: دورة الألعاب العربية) are a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab world. They are organized by the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees. The first Games took place in 1953 in Alexandria, Egypt. Intended to be held every four years since, political turmoil as well as financial difficulties have made the event an unstable one. Women were first allowed to compete in 1985.
The Arab Games were the brainchild of Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, the first General Secretary of the Arab League (1945–1952). In 1947, Azzam submitted a memorandum to the League, advocating a multi-sport tournament which involved the participation of all Arab countries.
According to Azzam, sport serves as the best way to connect the youth of Arab countries and enable them to build the future of the Arab identity. As a common favorite of young individuals, sports tournaments encourage them to reach out across boundaries, bond with fellow Arabs, and eliminate differences among them. In the same vein, Azzam announced that the youth of the larger Arab nation is eager to gather all the dispersed Arab sports in an annual tournament which will be held in one of the Arab cities.
However, the Arab Games tournament did not gain official approval until 1953, when 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, making Egypt the first country to organise an Arab Games tournament, which was held in the city of Alexandria from July 26, – August 10, 1953. Eight Arab nations and Indonesia competed in the first Arab Games tournament.