WITHOUT a doubt, the royal directives issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz are vital in developing and revitalizing the government’s performance in accordance with the advancement scheme of Saudi Arabia.
It is a comprehensive ‘revolution’ not only in terms of the ministerial structures and institutional ‘warm-up’, but also the motivation towards self-development. This reflects on various aspects of life in the Kingdom and the region, considering the status and economic weight of Saudi Arabia.
This revolution needs resolutions on issues related to attracting investments, especially in the Gulf. The emotional, social and cultural links between the people in this region will not materialize unless they become part of common discipline, where every child of the Gulf region feels he is in his own country whenever he goes to any of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Thus, it is for this leader to look into issues on attracting GCC investments through several facilities that the Kingdom’s economy needs, in addition to pushing for free movement between the GCC member-States. The Kingdom must be the pioneer in the Gulf organization. It should always be proactive in setting investment trends that suit the future.
The European experience in this spectrum lies before us. Freedom of movement, import, export and ownership between 28 countries have enabled the union to overcome its problems; in addition to withstanding economic and security storms in the past years despite their differences in culture, language and vision.
When it comes to GCC countries, their culture and society are unified, while their economic links are almost similar in every aspect, making it easy to interpret unification through a series of procedures to water down obstacles.
We wish this leader considers an important point in his directives to his government – to allow the GCC nationals to own land in the Kingdom which has about 2.15 million square kilometers.
What prevents the GCC nationals from contributing to the massive projects in the Kingdom – whether agricultural, industrial or tourism among other fields that boost the economy and attract capitals and individuals? Without any doubt, such contribution will provide job opportunities to Saudis.
We have to follow the examples set by the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Bahrain attracted GCC capital by granting freedom of ownership and establishment of companies, in addition to easy movement of capital even before the formation of the GCC.
The second example is the issuance of legislation in favor of GCC investments, followed by the implementation of major projects with huge returns for UAE’s economy.
The Bahraini and Emirati open-door economic policies in ownership and investment intensified their presence in the GCC region as these policies cemented ties between them and other nations. This happened because the two countries managed to focus on common interests, so the GCC nationals have been motivated to aspire for the stability of these two countries. The Kingdom needs to take similar steps due to its special status in the heart of every GCC national.
If we ask Egypt, Morocco and other Arab countries to enact laws that are more welcoming to the GCC nationals, shouldn’t our country take precedent in enacting such laws? How can a GCC national have freedom of ownership in Australia, Sudan, Ethiopia and other countries without conditions or restrictions? When it comes to the regional system, there are complicated restrictions on the national investment environment.
Today, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is leading a radical revolution towards change in the Kingdom, starting with the audacious 2030 Vision to develop the economy and society as a whole. It came with a series of royal directives to complete the features of Salman’s era.
The GCC nationals wish to be partners in shaping the future of the Kingdom. Through your leadership, we see good opportunities as manifested by the royal directives which have GCC and regional characteristics.
Anyone who continues to bet on the legislature that closes the door to GCC investors is definitely suffering from short-sightedness, because the open-door economic policies and commercial exchange are the bases of a successful economy, as well as security and stability. We want this for the Kingdom which should be the pioneer in development.
The Kingdom must add the GCC contributions to its industries, agriculture and economy in general, in addition to protection of rights through quick enforcement of rulings and regulation of sanctions. All of these will help in expediting the movement towards advancement.
Indeed, no one has ever mentioned this topic. I am presenting it due to my knowledge of the level of concern of the Kingdom’s leadership over the unification of GCC vision for a more stable and stronger future for our countries. It is necessary to link mankind with land and country for the people to be keen on working towards security and prosperity.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times