Saudi leadership and its role in enhancing the march of the Gulf Cooperation Council

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz patronizes GCC celebration marking its 30th anniversary

Report highlights the most important stations in the Saudi role to attain the objective of the council

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, patronized the Festivity held this week by the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States, on the occasion of its founding 30 years ago.

Upon arrival at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat General in Riyadh where the ceremony held, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz was received by the GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani and the assistant secretaries.

Addressing the gathering, Al-Zayani expressed happiness over the patronage of Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz of this occasion. He forwarded congratulations to the leaders of the GCC member states on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the group, wishing them continuous health and success.

He said 'We are in fact today celebrating the sincere effort and serious work that was exerted to keep this entity surviving as a guardian of security and stability in the region'.

He pointed that the Secretariat General has, as per the order of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, granted two-month salary to the Saudi personnel working in the Secretariat General.

Deputizing the former Secretaries General of the GCC, Abdullah Yaqub Busharah, the first who assumed that office, expressed thanks to Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, for patronizing this occasion. He said the GCC would have not reached this climax without its being hosted by Saudi Arabia, the care of the Kingdom's successive leaders and the support of other GCC leaders.

Then Prince Salman gave away the memorial gifts to those honored.

The ceremony was attended by Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President of the General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities; Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Assistant Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources; Prince Saud bin Salman bin Abdulaziz; Prince Bandar bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, a number of diplomatic corps accredited to the Kingdom; and a number of civil and military officials.

In May 1981, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman approved the Gulf Co-operation Council charter with the objective of increasing “co-ordination, integration and interconnection between member states in all fields”.

In the past 30 years, it has passed through several critical junctures and has taken giant strides on the road to unity and solidarity. During these years, it has been able to preserve its existence and has cemented its presence on the regional and international arenas.

The GCC has succeeded in tackling these tough challenges due to collective efforts and a coherent vision which have contributed to greater public faith in the union. The council has been an important source of power for its member nations and a framework that has cemented ties among its people.

GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayyani described the pivotal position that the council occupies on regional and international arenas when he reiterated that the GCC, in its third decade of existence, has become an effective organization with high credibility and considerable influence.

First, the Arab Gulf is in one of the biggest conventional arms races it has ever experienced, with an emphasis on acquisition of advanced fighter planes and anti-missile defense systems, possibly totaling more than $US120 billion ($113.6bn) over the next several years.

Second, in recent years there has been a “nuclear renaissance” in the Gulf, where the primary motive for the GCC civilian nuclear programs is Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The GCC countries have so far progressed transparently and in co-operation with the UN nuclear watchdog. To this end, most of them have signed agreements waiving nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.

The GCC's success hasn’t come out of a vacuum but has been due to several underlying factors. The first has been the wise and visionary leadership of its member states and their great ability to grasp domestic and external changes and their strong belief in the importance of Gulf solidarity as a basic guarantee to achieve common objectives.

Another important factor has been the significant steps taken by the GCC to achieve economic integration in the region. The notable achievements in this regard have been the implementation of GCC Customs Union in 2003 and the GCC common market in 2008, besides other steps of this kind.

The third factor has been building a sense of GCC’s collective security and its effectiveness in confronting the sources of danger that threaten the security and stability of the region.

The recent decision to send the Peninsula Shield troops to Bahrain to help maintain stability and thwart any bid to undermine social harmony indicates that the joint GCC action has succeeded in applying the concept of collective security.

Yet another factor has been the strong GCC presence on the international arena because of its moderate policies, successful development experience and political and social stability in a region full of turbulence. This adds to the GCC’s strength and effectiveness as a regional organization which derives its power from the strength of its members.

Despite all the great achievements made by the GCC during the last 30 years at various levels, it aspires to achieve more. Its march of progress is being steered by the wisdom of its leadership and the faith of its people who constantly seek greater integration, convergence and unity.