MANY questions have been raised about the proper way to overcome the current economic crisis caused by the oil price decline in the global market. Each country in the GCC is presenting a solution that appears suitable, amid the absence of a unified strategy to help the organization as a whole, not only to surpass the current period but also to ensure not to get trapped in it in the future.
The GCC countries are known to own vast wealth in the form of sovereign funds — estimated at 45 percent of the total sovereign fund in the world, with a capital of about $2 trillion. Each of these countries works individually, so it is easy to entice one side and blackmail the other. This has been the practice for decades.
If the GCC countries start to work within the framework of a unified strategy, they will save themselves from many dilemmas. They will become self sufficient in the aspects of food and industry, in addition to being able to impose economic and political conditions like the European Union.
This can be achieved through an economic council consisting of people with remarkable experience. These people will lay down unified plans to utilize that wealth — whether in Europe or the western countries in general, or in the Arab world and Africa; since the latter is still fresh and in need of long term projects through which, profits will be distributed equally or as shares for each country.
If we peruse the agreements and pacts governing GCC countries, we would realize there is nothing that prevents the establishment of the proposed economic council.
In fact, this council is an essential element in the unification course between the Gulf countries, as it will undoubtedly work with an economic mentality which is different from that of the 1960s and 1970s when the majority drove these countries towards the trap of economic crises.
It is unfortunate that the GCC countries do not benefit from each other’s experiences. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has started getting profits from its endeavor to lessen dependence on oil, so it did not panic when the price of oil dropped. The UAE will soon start celebrating its export of the last barrel of oil, because it has been working for quite some time on establishing a huge investment infrastructure in and outside the country; hence, it is worthy of emulation.
However, if the GCC economic council existed, the capability would have been massive in terms of maneuvering in every aspect. We then put in the hands of the GCC Secretary General the idea of establishing the council for managing the sovereign funds or at least part of these funds.
We hope every member-nation will adopt the idea for the council to have a solid economic structure and strong political force that the world cannot ignore. This is the only way to overcome the crises which will not end if we remain under the mercy of staggering oil prices.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times