Arab nationalism is a modern political development in the Arab world. The primary goal is the creation of a united Arab nation across the Middle East and north Africa. Most Arab nationalists view the future united Arab nation as being officially Islamic, but having a quasi-secular, socialist government.
Prior to the 1950s, Arab nationalism did not exist; Arabs generally did not see themselves as members of a nation or peoplehood. Instead, Arabs held loyalty to their local religious or political leaders, their tribe, or their own particular governments.
The most prominent of Arab nationalists include Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Dictator for life Moammar Al Qadhafi of Libya and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Arab nationalist movement was strongest in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1958 the states of Egypt and Syrian temporarilly joined to create a new nation, the United Arab Republic. Attempts were also made to include Yemen in the union, but the UAR collapsed in 1961 after a coup in Syria, leaving only Egypt, which had been the centre of political activity in the UAR, with Cairo as the capital and Gamal Abdal Nasser as the president. The name United Arab Republic continued to be used by Egypt until 1971, after the death of Nasser.
Arab nationalists generally were not religious, and did not promote observance of Islamic laws as such; however, the fact that most Arabs were Muslim was used as an imporant building block in creating a new Arab Muslim national identity.
A common goal of Arab nationalism is the destruction of the State of Israel. The Arab League has asserted that Israel has no right to exist; most members of the Arab League refuse to have diplomatic relations with Israel.