Prince Saud: GCC Union will give Gulf states more weight

April 29, 2012

Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz opened the GCC Youths Conference, organized by the Institute for Diplomatic Studies under the theme of “Arab Gulf States: From Cooperation to Union,” in Riyadh yesterday. Prince Abdulaziz delivered a speech on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, who serves as Chairman of the Institute.

Prince Saud declared that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states must work together to deal with current challenges, citing, “the escalation of confrontation between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program, its constant provocation of GCC countries in particular, the continued sufferings of the Palestinian people, and the implications of what is happing in a number of countries in the region regarding widespread political changes in the context of what has become known as the ‘Arab Spring.’” He advised, “These threats of all kinds require the hard work of the GCC countries to shift from a current formula of cooperation to a union formula acceptable to the six countries that ensures their security, stability and economic durability.”

Prince Saud noted the positive response of the GCC states to the proposal made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz at the 32nd GCC Summit in Riyadh, in which he called for the transition to a GCC Union. Such an arrangement would be beneficial to all members, he insisted, noting that closer cooperation “gives the GCC countries more weight and standing compatible with their elements of soft- power, material resources and geo-strategic importance.” Furthermore, Prince Saud said, unification “will make the GCC countries a powerful economic bloc with a GDP in 2011 reaching more than $1.4 trillion and a single market strength of 42 million people.”

At the conclusion of the conference today, the participants recommended that King Abdullah’s initiative be implemented, confirming that such a move will strengthen the regional and international leverage of the GCC states. In a statement, they called for the gradual consolidation of the infrastructure and the enhancement of the constitutional structures of each state in order to ease the way towards a union. New institutions, they insisted, should enhance the culture of human rights, equality, social justice and cultural diversity. The statement also recommended the establishment of a unified Gulf Youths Center tasked with guiding young people in the labor market.