Arab League nations ‘need to work more closely on common problems’
ABU DHABI // Member nations of the Arab League must develop common policies to deal with economic, political and social problems, said the secretary general of the organisation.
Dr Nabil Elaraby was speaking at a lecture entitled “The Future of Collective Arab Action”, at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research on Wednesday evening
Dr Elaraby said the region was facing challenges that affected its security and needed to be addressed through cooperation.
“The nature of these challenges impose on the Arab states the necessity to work jointly,” he said.
“We are capable, if we have the vision and will and if we work on developing Arab policies, to achieve a lot, like the European Union and the African Union.
“The EU started by being an economic union and, based on their experiences, they started shifting towards a larger union. They had a democratic system for many years so there’s no gap in EU countries between issuing laws and implementing them.
“I feel so sorry to be saying this but African states work more seriously than us and I hope that this mentality will change in the Arab world.
“We have huge problems and I don’t want any Arab country to think that they stand alone. We are all in the same basket, working hand in hand.”
Dr Elaraby said Arab countries faced internal and regional challenges, some of which were related to their geographical location.
“They’re surrounded by technologically-advanced countries such as Turkey, Israel and Iran... and they have ambitions,” he said.
“This is why Arab states should always focus on the ambitions of their neighbouring countries, which have different objectives.”
They faced political, economic and social difficulties, Dr Elaraby said.
“Some of these challenges are based on the incapacity to adopt a common policy to deal with political, economic and social matters, which are interconnected”, such as education and unemployment.
“Cooperation is the best way to deal with them as they affect our security and interests.”
Dr Elaraby said Arab states should work on establishing a security network.
“This region witnessed a lot of developments and we need to focus on using our expertise to reconstruct our institutions and monitor elections to improve their credibility,” he said.
“We need to work on establishing national dialogue to encompass other powers in the region. We need to change. We know every society has its characteristics but all societies share certain similarities.”
Gulf countries should also cooperate in renewable energy, he said.
“The environment is a very important matter and we need to deploy all our efforts to preserve our environment,” Dr Elaraby said. “We need to find new renewable energy sources.
“Our Arab countries have natural resources and, if they cooperate in a very effective way to create new projects in energy, this will allow us to preserve them for the coming generations.”
He said the UAE played a great role in that sector.
“I think Arab countries can export renewable energy to western countries,” said Dr Elaraby. “The project is difficult and costly but we should start to think about this seriously.
“Renewable energy is abundant in our countries. We have solar and wind so we need to present projects that can interest every Arab citizen.”
Other examples of collaboration included a regional human rights court and collective projects on food security.
“We need to level up this research in all our countries,” Dr Elaraby said. “Maybe it will take time to change the mentality but all Arab countries must feel our common interests.
“We want to participate in the creation of a better future for our countries and the region, and laying the foundation of our cooperation because our success will lead Arab states to become a great tool in building a better and more secure future.”
Updated: February 27, 2014 04:00 AM