The Arab League officially called the League of Arab States, is a regional organization of Arab economies in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia (Middle East). It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. The Arab League currently has 22 members and four observers. The main goal of the league 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. The Arab League has played a role in shaping school curricula, advancing the role of women in the Arab societies, promoting child welfare, encouraging youth and sports programs, preserving Arab cultural heritage, and fostering cultural exchanges between the member states.
Nabil el-Arabi was elected secretary-general of the Arab League in May 2011, succeeding fellow-Egyptian Amr Moussa. He took office in July.
Born in 1935 and a lawyer by training, Mr El-Arabi had a long career in the Egyptian diplomatic corps, and played a significant role in negotiations with Israel from the Camp David accords onwards.
During the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 Mr El-Arabi was one of a group of senior public figures who mediated the president's departure. He briefly served as foreign minister before taking up his post at the Arab League. All secretaries-general of the League have been Egyptians, except for the period 1979-1991 when Egypt was expelled over its peace treaty with Israel.