The historic town of Al Ula in Saudi Arabia is hosting a Gulf summit that is poised to be nothing less than historic as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) begins its fifth decade.
With King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al at the helm of this meeting of the GCC leaders, the 41st summit is expected to yield substantial results. The leaders are expected to zoom in particularly on two issues — the economic recovery of the member states following a year of contraction in oil revenues and business activities because of the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the unity of the organisation and its future, which will see the launch of a Gulf dialogue to address the three year old Qatar crisis.
The UAE last week emphasised the need to restore the GCC unity and stressed the leading role of Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s political powerhouse, in engaging all member states to address the Qatar crisis
Although the GCC economies have fared better than many other parts of the world during the height of the pandemic, there have been some setbacks during 2020 mainly due to the steep decline in the oil prices, caused by the prolonged lockdowns. Therefore, the GCC summit is important in that regard to bring about a new collective strategy — one that boosts the economy and mitigates the risks in case the pandemic escalates.
“The economic file has been set as the theme of the fifth decade of the GCC march, to promote and support joint action (in accelerating) the economic recovery, restoring growth and returning to normality after the pandemic and achieving sustainable development goals,” Nayef Al Hajraf, GCC Secretary General, said in a statement Sunday.
Meanwhile, the unity of the organisation is also expected to take a great deal of attention of the leaders as they continue to hold dialogue, recently initiated by Saudi Arabia to address the Qatar boycott. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha in an effort to curb its interference in the affairs of its neighbours and its support for extremist parties.
There are emerging global and regional challenges, such as the rising tension between the US and Iran that also requires a united and cohesive GCC stance to preserve regional stability. The UAE last week emphasised the need to restore the GCC unity and stressed the leading role of Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s political powerhouse, in engaging all member states to address the Qatar crisis.
In this context an agreement that is respected and implemented by all will certainly be in the best interest of the Gulf people and unity of the GCC. Today’s summit is hopefully the beginning of the end of this crisis.