GCC to focus on regional security

The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will begin their 31st meeting here today to discuss and review joint initiatives, including regional security, trade and economy, monetary union, common power grid and the proposed $30 billion railway project connecting all the member countries. The two-day meeting will be chaired by the UAE President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The GCC Secretariat with the support of the UAE Government Departments has already finalised the arrangements for hosting the Abu Dhabi Summit, which according to Council Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al Attiya will be a crucial and turning point in the joint actions of all domains.

The summit also marks the Council’s completion of three decades of cooperation and joint initiatives achieved. The most crucial topic discussed will be monetary union as both UAE and Oman have withdrawn from the common currency project.

However, UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri hoped the two countries rejoining the project. Al Mansouri told Saudi newspaper Al Eqtisadiah: “The UAE still hopes that there will be a single currency for the countries of the GCC.” The minister said the goal was to reach an agreement among all GCC members, adding Gulf policymakers would discuss the union during the forthcoming summit. “We in the Emirates believe our destiny is in the common Gulf region, whether economically, politically or socially,” he said.

The GCC secretary-general said in May the single currency was unlikely to be launched by 2015 after missing the initial 2010 deadline.

The other important issues that will be discussed, include joint GCC defence system, customs union, common market, common passport and common visa and ID card for travel within the region. The Gulf security is expected to dominate the summit.

At the summit, Gulf leaders are also expected to discuss the growing Al Qaeda presence in Yemen, from where militants also infiltrate Saudi Arabia to carry out attacks. Iraq also figures on the agenda.

The summit is also expected to discuss oil and gas prices as well as other energy issues, including the common GCC power grid. The first phase of the grid with a $1.2 billion investment has already been completed last year, connecting Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. The second phase will connect UAE and Oman, and the third will link UAE’s grid to Saudi Arabia – KhaleejTimes