A bird's eye view of constant activity on Dubai's highways. The Gulf states offer up a lesson in how shared interests is the best foundation for growth. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

We do not have to repeat what the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said. Churchill had advised to put interests above any other considerations, including friendships and enmities.

This was an article of faith for Europe’s most experienced - and cunning - statesman of the last century. Although Europe had a history of wars, it reached a point where it learned what true cooperation meant and successfully built the most important economic union.

The cost of this lesson was high, including the loss of tens of millions of people and wanton destruction of cities in two devastating world wars, which were preceded by centuries of painful sectarian and religion conflicts. These resulted in no permanent gains to each of the conflicting parties.

This explains the decisive and humanitarian stance Europe took, devoid of any religious or ethnic considerations, during the sectarian wars in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. It went on to impose the values of peaceful coexistence among the warring parties.

Lessons not learnt

Unfortunately, the rest of world did not digest this valuable historical lesson, especially the in Middle East, which have been in crisis for more than half a century due to endless conflicts that have brought nothing to anyone. These are happening in one of the world’s richest regions in natural resources, but also, one of the most impoverished as well.

This inconsistency between wealth and under-development is a direct fallout from futile wars. No party or sect can impose its own convictions on others - it is a foregone conclusion based on the European experience. Accordingly, dreaming about the return of lost empires is nothing short of delusional.

It will evaporate, but at great cost, if some of the sectarian and chauvinist convictions do not change.

Need to rebuild legacies

The Middle East stores 40 per cent of the world’s oil and gas reserves apart from minerals and agricultural and human resources, in addition to being in an ideal geographical location - right in the middle of the world. This is enough to make it the first global centre for trade, transportation and modern industries that depend on the abundant natural resources available in the region.

This approach - of placing interests first - is an effective solution and strongly supported by the GCC countries, which recognise the importance of development. They embraced the peace policy, through which they have been able to provide a decent way of life for their people.

Needless interference

This is despite being exposed to provocative attempts to sabotage such achievements by regional powers looking for ways to justify their failures and waste of their peoples’ wealth in pursuit of bogus desires. They might have done so because they misunderstood history when trying to control other countries, which is not possible in any way whatsoever.

This is because those who build nations regardless of circumstances will also be able to safeguard their gains whatever be the threats. If this is properly understood, then let the dreamers reconsider their approaches. The alternative to wars and disputes is clear in the GCC states. It lies in cooperation and the supremacy of interests.

This call was made years ago; however, stubbornness impedes taking this into consideration, which could have opened up new prospects for growth, prosperity, job creation, and inventions, instead of wasting precious resources on useless wars.

The approach of putting interests first did not come out of nothing, rather it is based on historical facts. In addition to Europe’s experience, it is possible to refer to UN reports for the last 10 years in relation to human development in the Gulf. These states have topped the first six places in human development in the region, thanks to their social harmony, constant quest for peace, and respect for the privacy of others and their national sovereignty.

The example that perfectly describes this situation is a poem by the 10th century poet Abu at-Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi when he said: “A man of intellect may suffer because of his intellectual abilities even in good times; and the simple-minded enjoys even the bad times because of his ignorance.”

- Mohammed Al Asoomi is a specialist in Gulf economic and social affairs.