Flags of GCC member states. Image Credit: File picture used for illustrative purposes.

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia will host on Tuesday the 41st GCC Summit as Riyadh reopened its land and sea borders with Qatar, in the first steps toward ending a diplomatic crisis that has deeply divided Gulf countries since 2017.

The lifting of the boycott by Saudi Arabia paves the way for Qatar’s ruler to attend the summit of Gulf leaders that will be held in the kingdom’s desert city of Al Ula and chaired by the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit will be 'inclusive', leading the states towards 'reunification and solidarity in facing the challenges of our region', Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying in remarks carried by the Saudi state-run news agency.

Reunification and solidarity

The Saudi Crown Prince pointed out that the Gulf summit will translate the aspirations of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his brothers, the leaders of the GCC states in reunification and solidarity in facing the challenges in our region, asking the Almighty to perpetuate the security, stability, solidarity and cohesion of the peoples of the GCC states.

Observers agree that the economic file is the most prominent on the table of the Gulf leaders, as the scenarios will be put in place to ensure the rapid recovery of the economies of the member states, especially after repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then comes the Iranian file, and a unified political strategy to be drawn up to deal with the new US administration, headed by President-elect Joe Biden, in the event that the United States returns to the nuclear agreement, from which the administration of outgoing President Donald Trump withdrew.

The citizens of the GCC countries hope that the summit will open new, non-traditional horizons for the future generations in the fields of the digital knowledge revolution and the acceleration of communication technology and its uses, to keep pace with global developments, which heralds a prosperous future and sustainable development.

UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Mohammad Gargash, said he welcomed 'a return to GCC unity at Tuesday’s summit. Gargash said Monday on his Twitter account that the security and stability of the countries and peoples of the Gulf Cooperation Council is "a top priority."

"We are before a historic summit par excellence in Al Ula, through which we restore Gulf cohesion, and we are keen to ensure that the security, stability and prosperity of our countries and peoples are the first priority," Gargash said on the eve of the summit

He added, “We have more work ahead and but are in the right direction.”

According to several reports, Qatar will, in return, drop its lawsuits against Riyadh and its allies, as part of a broader agreement to defuse tensions, due to be signed on Tuesday.

Qatar’s only land border has been mostly closed since mid-2017, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain boycotted the tiny Gulf state, accusing it of supporting Islamist groups in the region and of having warm ties with Iran. Kuwait has been mediating between Qatar and the four Arab states.

Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al Hajraf, Secretary-General of the GCC affirmed that the Gulf block is steadily moving towards the 5th decade of the blessed cooperation process with the grace of God and then with the wisdom of their Majesties and Highnesses the leaders of the GCC states.

“Despite the exceptional circumstances the world is going through, the GCC leaders are keen to preserve the GCC as a cohesive system capable of overcoming difficulties and challenges,” Al Hajraf said.

The Al Ula summit will be convened on Tuesday, in the absence of all the council’s founders, the last of them was Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the former Sultan of Oman, passed away last January.

The Gulf Cooperation Council first convened in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of the former Saudi monarch, King Khalid bin Abdulaziz, the President of the UAE at the time, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the former Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the Emir of Qatar at the time, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, and the Emir Bahrain at the time, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, in addition to Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman.