Doha is hosting the 12th Pan Arab Games in December! This is the first time that the quadrennial multi-sport event is being held in a Gulf state – the rights to host the event was given by the Arab Association for Sports Games (AASG) to Doha, beating Lebanon in the bidding process.

The Sports Secretary General for Arab Federation for Sports Othman Al Saad said that by hosting the event, Qatar would give the Pan Arab Games “more momentum and significance in light of the huge capabilities and world-class sports facilities which Qatar owns.” Al Saad went on to say he is confident that the games will be a huge success in Doha and that it will hopefully prepare athletes for the Olympic Games in London next year.

The Pan Arab Games are a regional multi-sport event organised by the Arab National Olympic Committee and held between countries in the Arab world. Created by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam, the first General Secretary of the Arab League, the first Games took place in 1953 in Alexandria, Egypt with eight Arab countries and Indonesia as participants. The tournament is supposed to be held every four years, but unfortunately political instability has made that impossible.

There are now 36 sports in the Games and as of 1985, women can compete, too.

Several Qatari athletes have made a mark over the years, mainly for running. Sprinter Talal Mansour won the 100m and 200m events in 1992, Ibrahim Ismail won the 200m in 1997 and the 400m in 1992, 1997 and 1999, while long distance runner Ahmed Ibrahim Warsama won the 5,000m in 1997 and the 10,000m in 1999, Bilal Saad Mubarak won the shot put in 1992 and 1997; and Rashid Shafi Al Dosary won the discus in 2002.

Hopes now lie with Moataz Essa Barshim in the high jump and Abubaker Ali Kamal in the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase. Other athletes to look out for are Samuel Francis in the 100m, James Kwalia, Essa Ismail Rashed in the 5,000m and Femi Seun Ogunode in the 200m and 400m.

The Games, which presents a unique opportunity for countries in the Arab world to come together through their sporting excellence, will have more than 12,000 participants (8,000 athletes and 4,000 administrators, team officials, technical staff, members and journalists) to compete in the 34 events. There will be four games for Paralympics teams.

Host countries often meet with more success and so hopefully Qatar will continue that trend.

The 2011 Pan Arab Games is being held from 9 – 23rd December, and what with Qatar National Day being on the 18th of December, it will surely be an exceptional event.

The 22 Nations competing at the Games:

  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Comoros
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  •  Syria
  • Tunisia
  • The U.A.E
  • Yemen

Visit Arab Games 2011 website for more details.