(MENAFN- The Peninsula) QNA
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) countries celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the Council on May 25, 1981.
The GCC General Secretariat is celebrating this occasion with a ceremony at its headquarters in Riyadh yesterday, as an expression of pride in the march and achievements of the Council over the past 42 years.
The decision to establish the Council was not a spur of the moment, but was an institutional embodiment of a historical, social and cultural reality; as the GCC countries enjoy deep religious and cultural ties, in addition to family intermingling among their citizens.
In their entirety, they are factors of rapprochement and unification, reinforced by the geographical area extending across the coastal desert environment that embraces the inhabitants of this region, facilitated contact and communication between them, and created interdependence between the inhabitants of this region and homogeneity in identity and values.
The establishment of the Council also came in response to the aspirations of the people of the region for a sort of regional Arab unity, after it was not realizable at the comprehensive Arab level.
In remarks on the occasion, GCC Secretary-General Jassim Muhammad Al Budaiwi, said that the celebration of the 42 anniversary is a celebration of this entity and its blessed journey since 1981. With the grace of Allah, and the vision of Their Majesties and Highnesses, the leaders of the GCC states, the GCC march is moving forward to achieve the goals and aspirations of its people, and translate a reality that aims to preserve the gains achieved, and build for the future with confidence and determination, he added.
The Statute of the GCC stipulated that its establishment came as a result of its member states realizing the special relations, common features, and similar systems that are based on the Islamic faith, believing in the common destiny and unity of purpose that unites their peoples, and desiring to achieve coordination, integration, and interdependence between them in all fields, convinced that coordination, cooperation and integration among them serve the lofty goals of the Arab nation.
According to the Statute of the Cooperation Council, its main objectives are to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among member states in all fields in order to realize unity, deepening and strengthening existing ties, connections and aspects of cooperation between their peoples in various fields, and establishing similar systems in various fields, including economic, financial, commercial, educational, cultural, social, health, media, tourism, legislative and administrative affairs, advancing scientific and technical progress in the fields of industry, mining, agriculture, water and animal resources, establishing scientific research centers, establishing joint projects, and encouraging private sector cooperation for the benefit of its people.
The 42nd anniversary of the founding of the GCC comes to see the Council enjoying a good reputation, as well as a prestigious regional and global position, being the most successful integrational experience in the region, an experience that has become a subject of praise and admiration, and has become a basic pillar of security and stability and a voice for wisdom and balance.
This year's anniversary comes while the Gulf citizen enjoys security and stability, feels proud of their gains and achievements, and extends a helping hand to their brothers and the whole of humanity.
During its fifth decade, the GCC Council accomplished several projects, steps, and stages, most notably the unified identity of the GCC card (smart card), which contributed to facilitating the movement of citizens between member states, reducing the waiting period in front of entry points by entering through electronic gates, and helping streamline the movement of national labor among the member states.
Since its establishment, the GCC member states realized the importance of economic citizenship that stems from the full equal treatment among GCC citizens without distinction or discrimination in all economic fields, making it the bedrock and the backbone for any joint economic action. The GCC Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee had an effective and influential role regarding all the economic decisions issued by the GC Supreme Council in that regard, including the statute of real estate ownership by GCC nationals within member States for residential and investment purposes, abolishing restrictions on the practice of economic activities and free professions by GCC citizens in the Member States, extending the insurance protection cover for GCC citizens working in other GCC States, in both public and private sectors, and allowing companies owned by GCC citizens of to open branches in Member States.
One of the most prominent stages of the GCC was establishing the Gulf Common Market which provides several benefits, including the ease of movement of goods among GCC States, which leads to increased competitiveness between gulf institutions in favor of the consumer. The GCC States also established the GCC Free Trade Area, which is characterized by exempting the industrial and agricultural goods and the natural resources of the GCC States from customs duties. The GCC Free Trade Area came into effect in March 1983 and continued for around 20 years until the end of 2002 when it was replaced by the GCC Customs Union.
The GCC States also aspired for the Monetary Union as it constitutes the last building block in the project of economic integration among the GCC States, and with its completion, the member states will effectively become one economic bloc at the international level. The Single Currency would also embody a unified economic identity for the member states. It would also represent a symbol of integration and a practical step to achieve Gulf citizenship. The monetary union would increase the global presence and influence of the member states in international forums and global economic decision-making institutions.
The education sector received great attention from the GCC states during the past years and succeeded in making several achievements, including equality in general and technical education and the promotion of Gulf citizenship. The Gulf Network for Quality Assurance of Higher Education was established and a guide for equality among GCC citizens who are residents in each other's countries in terms of treatment at universities and government higher education institutions was endorsed.
In the health sector, GCC states demonstrated their cooperation through the exchange of expertise and medical technologies during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience showed the member states' ability to work jointly to stem the spread of the virus through quarantine measures and the application of preventive standards regulating international travel and trade.
The endorsement of the comprehensive security strategy for the GCC member states as well as the security agreement of the GCC states came in the context of the milestones and projects of the council's march. . The joint military action has also received the attention of their Majesties and Highnesses, the leaders of the GCC states since its founding. among the most prominent achievements on this track is the endorsement of the joint defense agreement of the GCC, the defense strategy of the Council, the formation of the joint Peninsula Shield forces and the conduct of joint military exercises.
The electrical interconnection between the GCC countries is one of the most important infrastructure projects approved by the Council. The benefits of the project include reducing the required reserves in each country, mutual coverage in case of emergency, benefiting from the surplus, and reducing the cost of producing electric power.
The Supreme Council of the GCC also approved the media strategy; the most prominent objectives of which are enhancing cooperation and opportunities for unity among the GCC states, consolidating the Gulf, Arab and Islamic identity of the GCC states, deepening Gulf citizenship, supporting the interdependence, security and stability of the Gulf community, developing general societal awareness among citizens and residents, and supporting the Councils march, cooperation and integration between the official and unofficial institutions in the member countries.
In its 33rd session, the Supreme Council approved the petroleum strategy of the member states, based on the political and economic importance of the GCC states at the global level; and their oil weight as they possess the largest proven reserves of oil and constitute the largest area for its production and export.
The GCC states cooperate widely in all sectors of the environment. They also cooperate with organizations working in the field of environmental protection and conservation of its natural resources. They have also joined 33 regional and international conventions and treaties in the field of environment, protection of wildlife and natural resources, biodiversity, protection of the ozone layer, climate change and combating desertification and international trade in endangered species.
In terms of foreign policy, the Cooperation Council worked to formulate common and unified positions towards political issues of concern to its six countries in the Arab, regional and international frameworks, and to deal as one group with the world, within the framework of foundations and pillars based on mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs and taking into account common interests. During the past four decades, the GCC has succeeded in strengthening its regional position and confirming its presence on the international forums, and has become an effective and reliable partner for the consolidation of security and stability around the world. Since its inception, the Council has also sought to expand its partnerships and strategic dialogues with many countries and blocks, and entered into free trade negotiations with countries and international economic groups to achieve common interests.
The march of the GCC is proceeding with determination and confidence of its leaders and peoples, looking forward to a brighter tomorrow and more achievements. The 42nd anniversary of founding the Cooperation Council comes ad efforts to implement the ambitious development plans in each of the GCC countries are moving forward to achieve the goals of comprehensive and sustainable development.