THE tour that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud made across the GCC countries and ended in Kuwait was a good omen for all GCC nationals and Saudis in particular. This is especially true in relation to the social and economic openness among citizens of the same region, as it contributes to concerted efforts towards the much-anticipated Gulf Confederation.
The most significant news happened in the Kingdom of Bahrain when King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Bahraini King Hamad bin Essa bin Salman Al-Khalifa announced the ‘Bridge of Love’, linking both kingdoms with huge participation of the private sector.
It is considered a major stage in improving trade exchanges within the Arabian Gulf. It indicates the level of the private sector’s ability in terms of massive developmental accomplishments in GCC countries and its impact on our societies. This implies that the sector is the economic backbone of any country.
It is impossible to actualize confederation without passing through the mandatory corridor — the joint GCC market, which must be established based on common investments to increase the rate of openness among member-States.
At the forefront of these countries is Saudi Arabia that is regarded as the engine room of Gulf economy considering its large market in the region. This is in addition to the enormous industrial base it possesses, which can make diversification of resources easy for GCC countries by opening doors of global markets to form safety cover for the region.
Saudis and other GCC nationals are looking forward to interpreting all these through laws and regulations to ease the movement of capital and individuals. They desire freedom of ownership, public-private partnership projects, and encouraging GCC investors to participate actively in upgrading infrastructure and industrialization, especially in Saudi Arabia from where it will reflect on the rest of the region positively.
Undoubtedly, the global recession that has been going on for eight years, as well as dwindling price of oil and its negative effects have changed viewpoint on the role of the State in the Gulf, because citizens are more convinced that it is impossible for continuity of absolute profit and dealing with countries like a cow from which citizens get milk without any pay back. Citizens are more enlightened about the need to perform their duties in return for rights obtained.
The benefits include change in the mindset of those making noise by comparing the GCC housing system monopolized by the State to the rest of the world because there are no housing plans. Some banks are financing acquisition of suitable houses for everybody under strict laws, but it consumes a large percentage of our budget yet the problem remains complicated.
Some GCC countries have started taking procedures to correct expenditures in a way that the State can continue playing expected roles while curbing excesses. Many citizens are comfortable with the idea since it guarantees their future, so other citizens should be positive towards it. However, we must admit that real success is attainable by being more open to the private sector through series of encouraging investment laws.
Therefore, GCC citizens have a strong belief that the determined and resolute King is working for the good of the entire region. His tour, which no doubt has amazing economic and political effects on GCC countries, is embedded with high hopes. This is exactly what we know about the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times