GCC leaders concluded a key summit conference in Doha on Tuesday, reiterating their
resolve to confront terrorism and strengthen economic integration, and taking steps to
make the GCC common market a reality to expand joint trade beyond $100 billion.
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, urged GCC countries to
stand united in the face of “dangerous challenges” that threaten the six-member bloc.
Prince Salman led the Saudi delegation to the summit on behalf of Custodian of the Two
Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
“The Gulf Cooperation Council is passing through the most delicate situation in its
history as a result of highly dangerous challenges,” the crown prince said in Doha in an
apparent reference to IS militants threatening Gulf security.
“This (situation) demands greater unity and solidarity among the GCC countries to
safeguard their achievements,” Prince Salman said while praising Qatari Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for extending a warm welcome for him and his delegation.
The final communiqué called for more talks to transform the GCC into a union the Gulf
Arab countries, which was King Abdullah’s proposal to strengthen the organization. It
also urged greater efforts to establish a joint military force to defend the member
states. It emphasized the GCC’s support for Egypt.
The leaders approved steps taken to finalize the GCC customs union and agreed to form a
unified naval force, said Abdullatif Al-Zayani, secretary-general of the GCC who read
out the communiqué, adding that they expressed happiness over the efforts to build a
joint military command.
The summit approved the GCC police force based in Abu Dhabi.
It opposed Iran’s occupation of the three UAE islands and urged Tehran to cooperate with
the UAE to settle the dispute.
The leaders endorsed the unified law for food and agreed to make greater efforts to
achieve integration of financial markets.
Opening the summit, Sheikh Tamim supported the Gulf Union project, saying it would
remain a noble objective. “We have to make gradual steps to achieve economic
integration,” the Qatari ruler said. “The time has come for the GCC to establish its
position on the political map.”
Sheikh Tamim blasted Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people. “The
international community is silently watching the illegitimate Israeli practices and this
will be considered a big crime against humanity.”
Speaking about the worsening Syrian crisis, he said it was happening due to the absence
of a clear vision for influential global forces to resolve the issue. He urged the UN
Security Council to stop the Syrian regime’s crimes against humanity.
Chaired by Sheikh Tamim, the summit was attended by Prince Salman, King Hamad bin Isa
Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Sheikh Mohammed bin
Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE vice president, and Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Saeed, deputy prime
minister of Oman.
Kuwait’s emir said falling oil prices were affecting the incomes and development
programs of oil-producing Gulf states. He said the GCC countries should have the ability
to stand united despite differences in opinions. “Differences should not lead to cutting
ties that would weaken the organization.” He urged Iran to remove the suspicions
surrounding its nuclear program.
The summit studied steps to implement an earlier decision to form a joint military
command, based in Riyadh. It also considered the establishment of a naval force to be
stationed in Bahrain and a joint police force with its headquarters in the UAE.
The Saudi delegation at the summit included Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz
bin Abdullah, State Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman, State Minister Musaed Al-Aiban
and Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.
Also on the agenda was the GCC water pipeline project, which has been endorsed by
relevant GCC ministers to ensure water security. The project to be implemented in three
phases is expected to cost $10 billion.
According to figures issued by the GCC secretariat, the trade exchange between the
member states rose from $92 billion in 2013 to $97 billion in 2014. The summit discussed
all obstacles facing the GCC common market project.
The GCC rail link, which will be completed by 2018, will cost $15 billion and boost
trade, economic and social relations between the six countries. The railway will have a
total length of 2,117 km with 663 km passing through Saudi Arabia, 684 km through UAE,
306 km in Oman, 283 km in Qatar, 145 km in Kuwait and 36 km in Bahrain.
The next summit will be held in Riyadh. On behalf of King Abdullah, Prince Salman
welcomed the GCC leaders to Saudi Arabia.