What happens after the Gulf reconciliation? The joy at reaching a final solution still echoes through the entire Gulf region and we can again feel the breeze of brotherhood and unity. This crisis had continued for too long, destroying the trust we had built for decades.
Now that peace has been restored, what does our future look like? Can the people of the Gulf feel safe and confident after the Al Ula agreement? Can we visit our family and friends on the other side without fear of getting stopped at airports or a feeling of being watched? How do we feel safe after an earthquake that has ripped the ground from under our feet?
Interestingly, the communiqué issued after the Al Ula agreement was comprehensive and covered more than 100 topics pertaining to the Gulf and the world, but there was not a single statement about the Gulf people, and about the future relationship after this reconciliation, and many other issues about this crisis like the cancellation of all previous decisions against each other and incidents of arrests etc.
We, as Gulf people, demand that the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and individual Gulf states issue a statement that gives citizens confidence and security. I think there are 12 steps the Gulf countries can take to rebuild trust.
1. The issuance of a statement by the General Secretariat of the GCC and the Gulf governments that the Al Ula agreement cancels all that came before it and what was contrary to it and that Gulf citizens can move freely without fear.
2. Establishing a department or administration in the General Secretariat which is responsible for guaranteeing freedom of expression among Gulf citizens without prejudice and without violating the rights of others.
3. Prepare a list of people who are not welcome in certain countries, so that they can avoid visiting those countries and thus avoid future problems.
4. Freedom of expression must be guaranteed for all citizens and residents of the Arab Gulf states in accordance with the local and international laws and agreements.
5. Asking all media influencers and tweeters in the Gulf countries to focus on building confidence and to be the first in line of defence in protecting the unity of the Gulf people. Each of us is responsible for his word and must be judged based on what he or she says, and should not be held responsible for others’ mistakes.
6. Cooperation and coordination among human rights organisations in the Gulf countries to solve issues and problems created by the crisis.
7. Periodic and official visits by Gulf leaders to other countries to break the barrier of fear among citizens.
8. Organising cultural, artistic, and sporting events in the Gulf states, with the participation of all groups from all the Gulf countries to create unity and cohesion.
9. Inviting the youth to attend events and festivals in other Gulf countries under the slogan ‘Our Gulf is One’. The Gulf has always been and will remain one and the forces of hatred will not be able to subvert this reality.
10. Establishing and activating a plan of action for common human development of Gulf societies, and exchanging experiences to create confidence.
11. A common initiative to promote economic and commercial cooperation in the Gulf states for mutual benefits.
12. Finally, and perhaps the most important, a meeting that brings together all the leaders of the Gulf, not others on their behalf, to convey the message that things have returned to normal.
We hope that, after the signing of the Al Ula agreement, a priority of the Gulf governments will be to build a culture of trust in a practical and realistic way. This will make us stronger. Gulf people and institutions love each other. But confidence-building measures are necessary because this crisis had created so much havoc.