Leaders of the GCC have constantly maintained efforts to strengthen the alliance. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s current Gulf tour is indicative of this trend. Anyone who ever doubted the resilience of this 40-year-old grouping can now see that the GCC stands as a united, prosperous and stable alliance in a region often beset by tumult.
In January, Saudi Arabia hosted a GCC summit in AlUla, bringing an end to a row with Qatar, and infusing the alliance with a fresh sense of purpose. Saudi Arabia has since signalled it is keen to ‘bolster bonds of fraternity’ with fellow Gulf states.
Prince Mohammed’s UAE visit should be seen in light of the above. The trip is aimed at bringing the two brotherly countries together. Both nations are remarkably similar, and adopt a common stance on key issues such as development, supporting peace, fighting terrorism, addressing climate change and using advanced technology as a road map for a more prosperous future.
Pragmatic outlook and balanced policies
Both states, with their pragmatic outlook and balanced policies, have emerged as models for the region. There is a unique synergy between the leaderships of the two countries, which has brought them closer together.
Examples of wider GCC unity have also abound. For instance, all GCC states stood by Saudi Arabia after irresponsible comments made by a Lebanese minister about the Saudi-led Arab intervention in Yemen to uphold the legitimacy of that country’s internationally recognised government.
Also, Prince Mohammed’s tour comes just days after the Big Powers and Iran ended an inconclusive round of talks on going back to a 2015 nuclear deal.
The GCC took a dim view of the original deal as it did not go far enough to address the alliance’s concerns, and now the GCC is seeking engagement with Tehran under a new arrangement. The GCC’s voice is the strongest when it is united, and the organisation is better able to put forth its concerns because it is speaks in one voice on key issues.
Gulf states are unique in the Arab world in that they have sophisticated market economies that are the envy of other nations. But the fact that Gulf countries are so open also means they are not immune to the vagaries of the global economy.
A case in point is the worldwide downturn brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The GCC realises that the post-pandemic economic challenges will be better tackled when there is cohesion in policies.