The Middle Eastern investors who own almost one-fifth of Financial General Bankshares Inc. have nominated three prominent Washington businessman to run for the company's board of directors in opposition to the candidates recommended by Financial General's management.

The nominees are Stuart Symington, the former senator from Missouri; Elwood R. Quesada, chairman of L'Enfant Plaza Properties Inc.; and Donald D. Notman, former chairman of National Bank of Washington and now president of a group of mutual funds.

Symington, Quesada and Notman were nominted by Shiekh Kamal Adham, a former Saudi Arabian government official who owns about 9 percent of Financial General's stock. They also have the backing of Faisal Saud al Fulaij of Kuwait and Abdullah Darwaish, financial adviser to the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, two other major shareholders in the $2.2 billion Washington bank holding company.

Adham's Washington attorney, Robert Altman, filed notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday night of his plan to mount a rival slate in what is usually an uncontested election of board members.

The SEC was also notified that Adham plans to ask Financial General shareholders to adopt a resolution urging the company's management to end its opposition to efforts by Middle Eastern investors to buy control of the company.

To help with both the election and the resolution, Adham sued Financial General in Richmond on Friday, asking the state circuit court to order the company to give him the names and addressed of all its stockholders.

Adham heads and Altman represents a group of Middle Eastern investors who in late 1977 secretly bought a large block of stock in Financial General. Since then the group has been trying to make a public tender offer to buy the remainder of the banks shares. For two years, however, their efforts have been blocked by a series of legal barriers erected by Financial General's management.

Now the Middle Eastern investors apparently hope to bring the issue to a head at Financial General's annual meeting April 30 in Richmond.

Contested elections are rare at corporate annual meetings, because in most companies the management or shareholders friendly to management control enough stock to elect whomever they want to the board or to block any resolution critical of the way the company is run.

That apparently is no longer the case at Financial General. No clear majority is owned by either the Adham group or FG's top executives, Chairman B.F. Saul II and President J. William Middendorf II. Control of the 11-bank holding company could be decided by thousands of independent shareholders.

To presuade those stockholders, Adham told the SEC he is prepared "to expend such amount as may be necessary . . . as much as $1 million."