by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It is the 17th time that the tournament has been staged, the first time in the Sultanate of Oman; the most popular location being Amman, the capital city of Jordan.
Amman has hosted the event on four occasions, the first being in 1992; then later in 1997 and more recently in 2012 and 2015.
Only two other cities have staged proceedings on more than one occasion. Beirut, the capital of Lebanon was the home in 1999 and 2005; in 2003 and 2007, Sana’a in Yemen played host.
Notably, it is a tournament that has developed over the years, the first edition was staged in 1987 in Casablanca, Morocco; the second two years later in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On those occasions only a Men’s Singles event was held, Iraq enjoying success; Imad Jehad and Muneer Jassim being the respective winners.
Three years later in Amman, a Women’s Singles event was introduced, the victor, Fayrouz Kheirbek.
The situation remained the same until 2005 in Beirut when the tenth edition of the tournament was held. On that occasion, Junior Boys’ Singles, Junior Girls’ Singles, Cadet Boys’ Singles and Cadet Girls’ Singles events were staged in addition the Hopes Boys’ Singles and Hopes Girls’ Singles competitions.
A name to note in 2005 was Egypt’s Omar Assar; he won the Cadet Boys’ Singles title. Later in 2009 in Cairo, colleague Dina Meshref secured the Cadet Girls’ Singles title.
Eight titles on offer, the situation remained the same for the next four editions, until in 2015 in Amman, the most recent staging of the tournament, Youth Men’s Singles and Youth Women’s Singles events were organised.
Now in 2017 another busy programme awaits. Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Alabbad and Tunisia’s Safa Saidani are the respective reigning Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles champions.