GCC must lead efforts to rebuild war-torn neighbours, says Sheikh Nahyan

  • 6 October 2015

The GCC must play an active role in setting up and leading an Arab alliance to help the region’s strife-torn countries rebuild, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development said on Tuesday.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said the GCC was closely linked to Arab countries that had recently experienced upheaval, such as Syria, Yemen, Libya, Egypt and Iraq.

“Successful leadership is one of the most important pillars of building a strong foundation for any prosperous nation,” Sheikh Nahyan said.

“The Arab region, perhaps more than anywhere, needs to focus on its role and to re-engineer the elements of our internal structure with full awareness of what is happening in surrounding countries.”

Sheikh Nahyan was speaking at the opening day of a conference at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research on the challenges of nation-building in Arab countries that have experienced conflict.

“We in the UAE are very lucky to have leaders who are able to steer the wheel of our nation with such proficiency, ability and wisdom,” he said. “Rebuilding such nations starts by identifying the main reasons that led them into the changes that have happened in the past four years.

“We can see there are internal reasons like the weakness of some state institutions, internal sectarian disputes, a low level of quality of life and maybe a certain gap between citizens and the leadership.

“There is also an increasing number of youth that have great hopes for achieving a certain standard of education, being employed and playing an active role in society.”

Sheikh Nahyan said citizens of such countries should be the ones to decide how to proceed.

“This nation-building exercise under such circumstances is difficult,” he said. “It needs to take into account experience of other countries in other parts of the world, a clear vision and a strong will.

“I am confident GCC countries are able to serve as a successful example for Arab countries that recently witnessed change.”

Mohammed Al Shaali, former minister of state for foreign affairs, said the situation was worrying. “This region is one of great instability and the reason is because the governments and nations failed in playing their roles actively,” he said.

He said sectarianism and terrorism were new challenges.

“Sectarianism became the new decisive element of many conflicts in the region,” Mr Al Shaali said. “Ten to 15 years ago, it wasn’t a visible element of any importance like it is now.

“Terrorism is a product of sectarianism and I believe both are the greatest threats and obstacles to nation-building.”

Dr Jamal Al Suwaidi, director general of the ECSSR, said: “The Middle East has witnessed great changes since 2010 in the political, security, economical, social and cultural foundations of Arab countries.

“They have witnessed internal conflict and wars resulting in millions of refugees. There is no single model for peace building in countries.”

He said building a nation at the end of conflict relied on returning social stability.

“First, by working on the return of the refugees to their home, then by working on regaining the capabilities of the country’s institutions to preserve peace, promote the rule of law and support legal institutions, among others,” Dr Al Suwaidi said.