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Gulf countries’ unity in focus as GCC Summit begins tomorrow

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The meeting will discuss ways to overcome the challenges that the region faces.

Unity of the Gulf countries will be in focus as the 41st Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) summit begins on January 5 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The meeting will discuss ways to overcome the “serious challenges” that the region faces. Ways to unify efforts to combat Covid-19 and improve economic growth will also be discussed.

GCC Secretary-General Dr Nayef Falah Al Hajraf said the 41st edition of the summit marks the beginning of a new chapter for the council as it enters its fifth decade. Economic integration and cooperation have been a “key objective” since the council’s formation in 1981.

He thanked the leaders of the Gulf countries and expressed confidence that it will help improve the security and stability of the member nations.

Al Hajraf had delivered formal invitations from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to the leaders of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, received the invite on behalf of the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Agenda

The GCC is one of the biggest economic blocs with a GDP of $1.6 trillion and exports amounting to $609.5 billion – making it the sixth-largest exporter in the world.

In its fifth decade, the GCC countries will focus on restoring economic growth in the region after the Covid-19 pandemic; overcoming its challenges; and resuming free trade negotiations and strategic partnerships with friendly countries. The council will also seek to enhance its competitiveness at the global stage by adopting modern methods and harnessing them to form new horizons of cooperation.

GCC success story

Beginning in 1983, GCC member states gradually began implementing unified policies to facilitate businesses, including tariff waivers for intra-GCC trade. It culminated in the creation of a GCC Customs Union in 2003 and the introduction of a unified customs tariff on inter-GCC imports.

These two landmark policies set the foundation for the establishment of the GCC Common Market in January 2008, and for the introduction of policies that granted Gulf citizens equal treatment across member states in business licensing and activities.

Key achievements

> GCC Commercial Arbitration Centre.

> GCC Standardisation Organization (GSO), which prepares, approves, and publishes GCC products’ standards.

> Equal treatment to all GCC citizens in the fields of stock ownership, company corporation, and elimination of relevant restrictions across member states.

> Permitting Gulf companies to have branches in GCC states, and receive equal treatment as local companies.

> Establishing and operating the GCC Interconnected Power Grid in 2014.

> Providing intellectual property protection and promotion of innovation and creativity through the establishment of the Patent Office of the GCC.

> The GCC initiative to resolve the Yemeni crisis in 2011; the ensuing implementation mechanisms to restore the legitimacy of the Yemeni government.

> Continued support for the end of disputed territories between the UAE and Iran.

> Contributing to the international coalition against Daesh and radical terrorist organisations by funding initiatives to counter terrorism and extremism.

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