Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal insisted the proposed Gulf Union will safeguard member states from common security threats and help emerge the regional grouping as a powerful economic hub with a GDP exceeding more than $1.4 trillion, Arab News reported.
The Saudi prince urged the Gulf governments to fully integrate key affairs in order to give greater impetus to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
“In the economic field, the Gulf union will make the GCC countries a powerful economic bloc with a GDP exceeding $1.4 trillion and a single market strength of 42 million people,” the Saudi foreign minister said in his speech which was read out by Prince Abdulaziz, deputy foreign minister, at the conference titled “Gulf Youth: From GCC to Gulf Union” in Riyadh. The speech also underlined the importance of the youth in Gulf societies, where more than 65% of the total population is under the age of 30.
“The shift to the status of union would give greater force in terms of geo-strategic importance and in the domain of global affairs,” the Saudi newspaper quoted him as saying.
The Saudi deputy foreign minister added: “The conference comes at a time where all GCC leaders, decision-makers and think-tanks are generously thinking on finding means to face current challenges at political, social and economic forums and their impact on GCC societies.
“All developments in the region, including Iran’s nuclear program and its continued provocation against the GCC, suffering of the Palestinian people and “Arab Spring” fallouts, have led us to think on how to deal with such developments in the best interests of the GCC.”
Gulf leaders have already endorsed the proposal to transform the Gulf Cooperation Council into a union during a summit held in Riyadh on 20 December last year. Some analysts believe that the integration of GCC states into a union will bring ‘bargaining power’ and ‘influence’ to the bloc in regional and global affairs.