The symbolism of the Arab flag in modern Arab states: Between commonality and uniqueness

Elie Podeh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The national flag, anthem and emblem are the three symbols through which an independent country proclaims its identity and sovereignty. Although each state has its distinctive flag, there are similarities in the flags of certain countries, such as in Scandinavia (the cross) and Africa (colours). These symbolise certain propinquity in terms of ideology, culture and history. Similarity is also to be found in the flags of the Arab countries: out of the twenty-two current members of the Arab League, ten share the same colours on their flags (green, white, black and red), while a certain Islamic symbol (eagle, star) in some flags represents the uniqueness of that country. Of the other twelve countries, most rely on one colour of the four (usually red or green) while nine use Islamic symbols (stars, crescent and sword) on their flags. In spite of the importance of this national symbol, the study of the modern Arab flag is almost non-existent. This article explores the modern evolution of the Arab flag and the reasons for the similarities in many Arab flags. In particular, it will deal with the pan-Arab flags of the Hashemites Kingdom of the Hijaz (1916-26), Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Egypt.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)419-442
Number of pages24
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Arab Revolt
  • Arab flag
  • Arab world
  • Egypt
  • Hijaz
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • National symbols
  • Nationalism
  • Palestine
  • Syria


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