As the world prepares to welcome 2021, leaving behind a year of extraordinary events, particularly the coronavirus pandemic, which threw life out of gear, politically, economically and socially, the unity and cohesion of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states is needed more than ever.
King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, who will host the summit in the first week of January, has invited all the GCC leaders. The meeting will be held at a critical time as the world continues to fight off the coronavirus pandemic and try to deal with its shattering impact on the people and the economy.
The GCC economies — that fare better than many other parts of the world according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — nevertheless suffered many setbacks during 2020 mainly due to the steep decline in the oil prices, caused by the prolonged lockdowns.
it is encouraging to see the summit being held in Saudi Arabia because the kingdom is not only the cornerstone of the Gulf collective action but also of the Arab world in general
Therefore, the GCC summit is important to bring about a new collective strategy to boost the economy and mitigate the risks in case the pandemic escalates into the new year. With some troubling signs of new virus variants discovered in Europe and a few parts of Asia and Africa and new lockdowns planned by major countries, it is vital the GCC comes up with a collective plan to shield the economies of its member states, especially in the energy sector.
Cornerstone of Gulf collective action
Secondly, the summit is expected to continue the recently initiated dialogue between the member states to address the Qatar boycott, a strategic decision taken by the Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017 in an effort to stop Doha’s interference in the affairs of its neighbours and its support for extremist parties.
The conditions for a final resolution to the issue may not be ripe at this juncture but it is essential to continue the dialogue, spearheaded by Riyadh, in order to reach agreeable terms. Thus, it is encouraging to see the summit being held in Saudi Arabia because the kingdom is not only the cornerstone of the Gulf collective action but also of the Arab world in general.
For the past four decades, the GCC succeeded in meeting tremendous regional and international challenges, such as the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the 11 September 2001 attacks, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the so-called Arab Spring chaos and the coronavirus pandemic.
Its unity and collective work is the key reason behind its success in overcoming those tests. The upcoming summit is critical in underlining the unity of the block, which would enable its members to address the immediate and long-term challenges.