League of Arab States
  • جامعة الدول العربية (Arabic)
    Jāmiʿat ad-Duwal al-ʿArabiyya
Emblem of the Arab League
Member states shown in dark green
Member states shown in dark green
Administrative centerCairo, Egypta
Largest cityCairo
Official languages
TypeRegional organization
Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Ali Al-Daqbaashi
LegislatureArab Parliament
22 March 1945
18 June 1950
11 September 1965
6 April 1983
2 January 2005
• Total area
13,132,327 km2 (5,070,420 sq mi) (2nd)
• 2022 estimate
462,940,089[1] (3rd)
• Density
27.17/km2 (70.4/sq mi)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
$3.4 trillion[2] (5th)
• Per capita
Time zoneUTC+0 to +4
  1. From 1979 to 1990, Tunis, Tunisia.

The Arab League (Arabic: الجامعة العربية, al-Jāmiʿa al-ʻArabiyya, Arabic: [al.d͡ʒaː.mi.ʕa al.ʕa.ra.bij.ja] ), formally the League of Arab States (Arabic: جامعة الدول العربية, Jāmiʿat ad-Duwal al-ʿArabiyya), is a regional organization in the Arab world. The Arab League was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945, initially with seven members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and North Yemen.[3][4] Currently, the League has 22 members.

The League's main goal is to "draw closer the relations between member states and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries".[5] The organization has received a relatively low level of cooperation throughout its history.[6]

Through institutions, notably the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Economic and Social Council of its Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), the League facilitates political, economic, cultural, scientific, and social programmes designed to promote the interests of the Arab world.[7][8] It has served as a forum for the member states to coordinate policy, arrange studies of and committees as to matters of common concern, settle inter-state disputes and limit conflicts such as the 1958 Lebanon crisis. The League has served as a platform for the drafting and conclusion of many landmark documents promoting economic integration. One example is the Joint Arab Economic Action Charter, which outlines the principles for economic activities in the region.

Each member state has one vote in the Council of the Arab League, and decisions are binding only for those states that have voted for them. The aims of the league in 1945 were to strengthen and coordinate the political, cultural, economic and social programs of its members and to mediate disputes among them or between them and third parties. Furthermore, the signing of an agreement on Joint Defence and Economic Cooperation on 13 April 1950 committed the signatories to coordination of military defence measures. In March 2015, the Arab League General Secretary announced the establishment of a Joint Arab Force with the aim of counteracting extremism and other threats to the Arab States. The decision was reached while Operation Decisive Storm was intensifying in Yemen. Participation in the project is voluntary, and the army intervenes only at the request of one of the member states. Heightened military arsenal in many member states and, in a small minority, civil wars as well as terrorist movements were the impetuses for JAF's establishment.[9]

In the early 1970s, the Economic Council put forward a proposal to create the Joint Arab Chambers of Commerce across international states. That led to the setting up of mandates to promote, encourage and facilitate bilateral trade between the Arab world and significant trading partners.


Following adoption of the Alexandria Protocol in 1944, the Arab League was founded on 22 March 1945.[10] The official headquarters of the League was the Boustan Palace in Cairo.[11] It aimed to be a regional organisation of Arab states with a focus to developing the economy, resolving disputes and coordinating political aims.[11] Other countries later joined the league.[12] Each country was given one vote in the council. The first major action was joint intervention to keep Palestine from being divided into two states in keeping with the decision of the United Nations General Assembly. When Transjordan agreed to this proposal, Egypt intervened to prevent this from happening.[13] It was followed by the creation of a mutual defence treaty two years later. A common market was established in 1965.[14]

Arab League of states establishment memorial stamp. Showing flags of the 8 establishing countries: Kingdom of Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen (North Yemen), Syrian Republic, Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Lebanese Republic and Palestine

The Arab League has not achieved much cooperation throughout its history. According to Michael Barnett and Etel Solingen, the design of the Arab League reflects Arab leaders' individual concerns for regime survival: "the politics of Arab nationalism and a shared identity led Arab states to embrace the rhetoric of Arab unity in order to legitimize their regimes, and to fear Arab unity in practice because it would impose greater restrictions on their sovereignty."[6] The Arab League was "specifically designed to fail at producing the kind of greater collaboration and integration that might have weakened political leaders at home."[6]


Main article: Geography of the Arab world

Joining dates of member states; the Comoros (circled) joined in 1993.
  1940s   1950s   1960s   1970s

The Arab League member states cover over 13,000,000 km2 (5,000,000 sq mi) and straddles two continents: Africa and Asia. The area largely consists of arid deserts, such as the Sahara. Nevertheless, it also contains several highly fertile lands like the Nile Valley, the Jubba Valley and Shebelle Valley in the Horn of Africa, the Atlas Mountains in the Maghreb, and the Fertile Crescent that stretches over Mesopotamia and the Levant. The area comprises deep forests in southern Arabia and parts of the world's longest river, the Nile.


Main article: Member states of the Arab League

The Charter of the Arab League, also known as the Pact of the League of Arab States, is the founding treaty of the Arab League. Adopted in 1945, it stipulates that "the League of Arab States shall be composed of the independent Arab States that have signed this Pact."[15]

In 1945, there were seven members,[4] but the Arab League now has 22 members, including 8 African countries:

and 7 observer states (note: the observer states below have been invited to participate during select Arab League sessions but do not hold voting privileges):


Egypt was suspended from the Arab League on 26 March 1979 due to the Egypt–Israel peace treaty, with the League's headquarters moving from Cairo to Tunis, Tunisia. In 1987, Arab League states restored diplomatic relations with Egypt, the country was readmitted to the League in May 1989 and the League's headquarters were moved back to Cairo in September 1990.[23]

Libya was suspended on 22 February 2011, following the outbreak of the First Libyan Civil War.[24] The Arab League voted to restore Libya's membership on 27 August 2011 by accrediting a representative of the National Transitional Council, which was the partially recognised interim government of the country.[25]

Syria was suspended on 16 November 2011 in the aftermath of the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. On 6 March 2013, the Arab League gave the Syrian National Coalition Syria's seat in the Arab League.[26] On 9 March 2014, secretary general Nabil Elaraby stated that Syria's seat would remain vacant until the opposition completes the formation of its institutions.[27] In 2021, the Arab League initiated a process of normalisation between Syria and other Arab nations.[28] On 7 May 2023, at the meeting of the Council of the Arab League in Cairo, it was agreed to reinstate Syria's membership.[29]

Politics and administration

Main articles: Charter of the Arab League, Council of the Arab League, Arab Parliament, Politics of the Arab League, and Foreign relations of the Arab League

Headquarters of the Arab League, Cairo.
  Recognition of both Israel and Palestinian State
  Recognition of Palestinian State only
Administrative divisions in the Arab League.

The Arab League is a political organization which tries to help integrate its members economically, and solve conflicts involving member states without asking for foreign assistance. It possesses elements of a state representative parliament while foreign affairs are often conducted under UN supervision.

The Charter of the Arab League[5] endorsed the principle of an Arab nation-state while respecting the sovereignty of the individual member states. The internal regulations of the Council of the League[30] and the committees[31] were agreed in October 1951. Those of the Secretariat-General were agreed in May 1953.[32]

Since then, governance of the Arab League has been based on the duality of supra-national institutions and the sovereignty of the member states. Preservation of individual statehood derived its strengths from the natural preference of ruling elites to maintain their power and independence in decision making. Moreover, the fear of the richer that the poorer may share their wealth in the name of Arab nationalism, the feuds among Arab rulers, and the influence of external powers that might oppose Arab unity can be seen as obstacles towards a deeper integration of the league.

Mindful of their previous announcements in support of the Arabs of Palestine the framers of the Pact were determined to include them within the League from its inauguration.[33] This was done by means of an annex that declared:[5]

Even though Palestine was not able to control her own destiny, it was on the basis of the recognition of her independence that the Covenant of the League of Nations determined a system of government for her. Her existence and her independence among the nations can, therefore, no more be questioned de jure than the independence of any of the other Arab States. [...] Therefore, the States signatory to the Pact of the Arab League consider that in view of Palestine's special circumstances, the Council of the League should designate an Arab delegate from Palestine to participate in its work until this country enjoys actual independence

At the Cairo Summit of 1964, the Arab League initiated the creation of an organisation representing the Palestinian people. The first Palestinian National Council convened in East Jerusalem on 29 May 1964. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded during this meeting on 2 June 1964. Palestine was shortly admitted in to the Arab League, represented by the PLO. Today, State of Palestine is a full member of the Arab League.

At the Beirut Summit on 28 March 2002, the league adopted the Arab Peace Initiative,[34] a Saudi-inspired peace plan for the Arab–Israeli conflict. The initiative offered full normalisation of the relations with Israel. In exchange, Israel was required to withdraw from all occupied territories, including the Golan Heights, to recognise Palestinian independence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a "just solution" for the Palestinian refugees. The Peace Initiative was again endorsed at 2007 in the Riyadh Summit. In July 2007, the Arab League sent a mission, consisting of the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers, to Israel to promote the initiative. Following Venezuela's move to expel Israeli diplomats amid the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, Kuwaiti member of parliament Waleed Al-Tabtabaie proposed moving Arab League headquarters to Caracas, Venezuela.[35] On 13 June 2010, Amr Mohammed Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, visited the Gaza Strip, the first visit by an official of the Arab League since Hamas' armed takeover in 2007.

The Arab League is a member of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), which was formed in 2004. CASCF is the Arab League's earliest participation in a cooperation forum with another country or region.[36] CASCF is the primarily multi-lateral coordination mechanism between the Arab states and China and within CASCF the Arab League represents its member states as a relatively unified force.[37] The Arab League's coordination allows Arab states to negotiate actively for collective projects involving multiple states, such as railway projects, nuclear power projects, and Dead Sea initiatives.[36]

In 2015, the Arab League voiced support for Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 uprising.[38]

On 15 April 2018, in response to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria aimed at ousting U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds from the enclave of Afrin, the Arab League passed a resolution calling on Turkish forces to withdraw from Afrin.[39]

In September 2019, the Arab League condemned Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to annex the eastern portion of the occupied West Bank known as the Jordan Valley.[40]

The Arab League met in Cairo on 12 October 2019 to discuss Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria. Upon meeting, its member states voted to condemn the Turkish offensive, dubbing it both an 'invasion' and an 'aggression' against an Arab state, adding that the organization saw it as a violation of international law.[41]

On 9 September 2020, the Arab League refused to condemn the UAE's decision to normalize ties with Israel. Nevertheless, "The goal all our Arab countries seek, without exception, is to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital," Aboul Gheit said.[42] In January 2024, the Arab League expressed support for South Africa's ICJ genocide case against Israel.[43]

List of summits

2013 Arab League Summit Logo
No. Date Host Country Host City
1 13–17 January 1964  United Arab Republic Cairo
2 5–11 September 1964  United Arab Republic Alexandria
3 13–17 September 1965  Morocco Casablanca
4 29 August 1967  Sudan Khartoum
5 21–23 December 1969  Morocco Rabat
6 26–28 November 1973  Algeria Algiers
7 29 October 1974  Morocco Rabat
8 25–26 October 1976  Egypt Cairo
9 2–5 November 1978  Iraq Baghdad
10 20–22 November 1979  Tunisia Tunis
11 21–22 November 1980  Jordan Amman
12 6–9 September 1982  Morocco Fes
13 1985  Morocco Casablanca
14 1987  Jordan Amman
15 June 1988  Algeria Algiers
16 1989  Morocco Casablanca
17 1990  Iraq Baghdad
18 1996  Egypt Cairo
19 27–28 March 2001  Jordan Amman
20 27–28 March 2002  Lebanon Beirut
21 1 March 2003  Egypt Sharm el-Sheikh
22 22–23 May 2004  Tunisia Tunis
23 22–23 March 2005  Algeria Algiers
24 28–30 March 2006  Sudan Khartoum
25 27–28 March 2007  Saudi Arabia Riyadh
26 29–30 March 2008  Syria Damascus
27 28–30 March 2009  Qatar Doha
28 27–28 March 2010  Libya Sirte
29 27–29 March 2012  Iraq Baghdad
30 21–27 March 2013  Qatar Doha[44]
31 25–26 March 2014  Kuwait Kuwait City[45]
32 28–29 March 2015  Egypt Sharm El Sheikh[46]
33 20 July 2016  Mauritania Nouakchott
34 23–29 March 2017  Jordan Amman[47]
35 15 April 2018  Saudi Arabia Dhahran
36 31 March 2019  Tunisia Tunis[48]
37 1 November 2022  Algeria Algiers
38 19 May 2023  Saudi Arabia Jeddah
39 16 May 2024  Bahrain Manama

Emergency summits

No. Date Host Country Host City
1 21–27 September 1970  Egypt Cairo
2 17–28 October 1976  Saudi Arabia Riyadh
3 7–9 September 1985  Morocco Casablanca
4 8–12 November 1987  Jordan Amman
5 7–9 June 1988  Algeria Algiers
6 23–26 June 1989  Morocco Casablanca
7 28–30 May 1990  Iraq Baghdad
8 9–10 August 1990  Egypt Cairo
9 22–23 June 1996  Egypt Cairo
10 21–22 October 2000  Egypt Cairo
11 7 January 2016  Saudi Arabia Riyadh
12 11 November 2023  Saudi Arabia Riyadh


Main article: Military of the Arab League

The Joint Defence Council of the Arab League is one of the Institutions of the Arab League.[49] It was established under the terms of the Joint Defence and Economic Co-operation Treaty of 1950 to coordinate the joint defence of the Arab League member states.[50]

The Arab League as an organisation has no military Force, similar to the UN, but at the 2007 summit, the Leaders decided to reactivate their joint defence and establish a peacekeeping force to deploy in South Lebanon, Darfur, Iraq, and other hot spots.

At a 2015 summit in Egypt, member states agreed in principle to form a joint military force.[51]

Economic resources

Main article: Economy of the Arab League

See also: List of countries by GDP (PPP) and List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita

The Arab League is rich in resources, such as enormous oil and natural gas resources in certain member states.

Economic achievements initiated by the League amongst member states have been less impressive than those achieved by smaller Arab organisations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).[52] Among them is the Arab Gas Pipeline, that will transport Egyptian and Iraqi gas to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. As of 2013, a significant difference in economic conditions exist between the developed oil states of Algeria, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE, and developing countries like the Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

OAPEC Members

The Arab League also includes great fertile lands in the southern part of Sudan. It is referred to as the food basket of the Arab World, the region's instability including the independence of South Sudan has not affected its tourism industry, that is considered the fastest growing industry in the region, with Egypt, UAE, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Jordan leading the way. Another industry that is growing steadily in the Arab League is telecommunications.

Economical achievements within members have been low in the league's history, other smaller Arab Organizations have achieved more than the league has, such as the GCC, but lately several major economic projects that are promising are to be completed, the Arab Gas Pipeline is to end by 2010, Connecting Egyptian and Iraqi Gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and then to Turkey thus Europe, a free trade Agreement (GAFTA) is to be completed by 1 January 2008, making 95% of all Arab products tax free of customs.


The Arab League is divided into five parts when it comes to transport, with the Arabian Peninsula and the Near East being entirely connected by air, sea, roads and railways. Another part of the League is the Nile Valley, made up of Egypt and Sudan. These two member states have started to improve the River Nile's navigation system to improve accessibility and thus foster trading. A new railway system is also set to connect the southern Egyptian city of Abu Simbel with the northern Sudanese city of Wadi Halfa and then to Khartoum and Port Sudan. The third division of the League is the Maghreb, where a 3,000 km stretch of railway runs from the southern cities of Morocco to Tripoli in Western Libya. The fourth division of the League is the Horn of Africa, whose member states include Djibouti and Somalia. These two Arab League states are separated by only ten nautical miles from the Arabian Peninsula by the Bab el Mandeb and this is quickly changing as Tarik bin Laden, the brother of Osama bin Laden, has initiated the construction of the ambitious Bridge of the Horns project, which ultimately aims to connect the Horn of Africa with the Arabian Peninsula via a massive bridge. The project is intended to facilitate and accelerate the already centuries-old trade and commerce between the two regions. The last division of the League is the isolated archipelago of the Comoros located off the coast of East Africa, which is not physically connected to any other Arab state, but still trades with other Arab League members.


Main article: List of countries by literacy rate

In collecting literacy data, many countries estimate the number of literate people based on self-reported data. Some use educational attainment data as a proxy, but measures of school attendance or grade completion may differ. Because definitions and data collection methods vary across countries, literacy estimates should be used with caution. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2010. The Persian Gulf region has had an oil boom, enabling more schools and universities to be set up.

Rank Country Literacy rate
1  Qatar 97.3[53]
2  Palestine 96.5[53]
3  Kuwait 96.3[53]
4  Bahrain 95.7[53]
5  Jordan 95.4[53]
6  Saudi Arabia 94.4[53]
7  Lebanon 93.9[53]
8  United Arab Emirates 93.8[53]
9  Oman 91.1[53]
10  Libya 91[53]
11  Syria 86.4[53]
12  Iraq 85.7[53]
13  Tunisia 81.8[53]
14  Comoros 81.8[53]
15  Algeria 80.2[53]
16  Sudan 75.9[53]
17  Egypt 73.8[53]
18  Yemen 70.1[53]
19  Djibouti 70.0[54]
20  Morocco 68.5[53]
21  Mauritania 52.1[53]
22  Somalia 44–72[55]


Main article: Demographics of the Arab world

While Arabs constitute the largest ethnic group in the Arab League, there are several other ethnic groups that also reside in the region, including Berbers, Kurds, Somalis, Assyrians, Armenians, Nubians, Mandaeans, and Circassians. Each of these groups have their own distinct cultures, languages, and traditions. As of 1 July 2013, about 359 million people live in the states of the Arab League. Its population grows faster than in most other global regions. The most populous member state is Egypt, with a population of over 100 million.[56] The least populated is the Comoros, with approximately 850,000 inhabitants.

Rank Country Population Density (/km2) Density (sq mi) Notes
1  Egypt 104,635,983 109 282 [57]
2  Sudan 49,197,555 16 41 [58]
3  Iraq 45,318,011 84 218 [59]
4  Algeria 44,700,000 16 41 [60]
5  Morocco 37,984,655 71 184 [60]
6  Yemen 34,277,612 45 117 [60]
7  Saudi Arabia 32,175,224 12 31 [61]
8  Syria 22,125,249 118 306 [60]
9  Somalia 17,066,000 18 47 [60]
10  Tunisia 11,708,370 65 168 [62]
11  Jordan 11,180,568 71 184 [60]
12  United Arab Emirates 9,269,612 99 256 [63]
13  Libya 7,054,493 3.8 9.8 [60][64]
14  Lebanon 5,296,814 404 1,046 [60]
15  Palestine 5,227,193 756 1,958 [65]
16  Mauritania 4,614,974 3.2 8.3 [60]
17  Oman 4,520,471 9.2 24 [60]
18  Kuwait 4,294,621 200 518 [60]
19  Qatar 2,795,484 154 399 [60]
20  Bahrain 1,463,265 1,646 4,263 [66]
21  Djibouti 957,273 37 96 [60]
22  Comoros 850,886 309 800 [60]
Total  Arab League 462,940,089 30.4 78.7


The majority of the Arab League's citizens adhere to Islam, with Christianity being the second largest religion. At least 15 million Christians combined live in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan and Syria. In addition, there are smaller but significant numbers of Druze, Yazidis, Shabaks and Mandaeans. Numbers for nonreligious Arabs are generally not available, but research by the Pew Forum suggests around 1% of people in the MENA region are "unaffiliated".[67]


The official language of the Arab League is Literary Arabic, based on Classical Arabic. However, several Arab League member states have other co-official or national languages, such as Somali, Afar, Comorian, French, English, Berber and Kurdish. In most countries, there is a dominant non-codified spoken Arabic dialect.



Main article: Sport policies of the Arab League

The Pan-Arab Games are considered the biggest Arab sporting event, which brings together athletes from all the Arab countries to participate in a variety of different sports.

The Union of Arab Football Associations organises the Arab Cup (for national teams) and the Arab Club Champions Cup (for clubs). Arab sport federations also exist for several games, include basketball, volleyball, handball, table tennis, tennis, squash and swimming.[citation needed]

See also


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