Opening Keynote Address at the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting

By His Excellency Dr. Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council

Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom

August 16, 2016

Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Saqer, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you once again for inviting me to this beautiful city and allowing me to say a few words. My friend Dr. Abdul Aziz, I speak on behalf of all of us gathered here when I say how grateful we are to you and your staff for organizing this annual event to debate matters of such importance and urgency in an atmosphere of academic calm.

H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani with National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony at the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani with National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony at the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

This is now the sixth year that I have spoken here and in preparing for today I reflected on the intervening years. Despite some of the most challenging times, there is a consistent strand, namely that we are always striving to make our region a better and more secure place for all our citizens – we are looking at where we want to be.

Here, I think that the GCC vision that sums it up is: “To achieve and maintain prosperity in the widest sense of the word.” In other words, economic wealth for each nation and citizen; opportunities to satisfy personal aspirations; equal opportunities for health, education, employment, and social services, all within a safe and secure environment; and political stability.

This, with one important addition – which is “and to live in harmony despite differences in philosophy and ideology” – is surely the vision for the whole region? The citizens of the region are crying out for an end to violence and a return to normality, peace, and security – so why is this so elusive? Your workshops are wide-ranging, and all in one way or another will impact on this important question. Today, I will look at some of the social, economic, and political factors involved but concentrate mainly on security, with the hope of adding focus to your discussions.

Firstly, there are social issues where there are huge challenges, but probably the greatest social challenge for all of us is our youth – because they are our future. Without appropriate education, employment, and guidance they will be lost souls, easily manipulated, and prone to being turned into a destructive element in society. It is for this reason that the nations of the GCC place youth at the top of the social priority list. But I ask you to give thought on what can be done in a proactive way to consider helping the youth in the region’s trouble spots. They are a seriously endangered species!

Probably the greatest social challenge for all of us is our youth – because they are our future. Without appropriate education, employment, and guidance they will be lost souls, easily manipulated, and prone to being turned into a destructive element in society.

With regard to economy and future prosperity, I am confident that the diversification plans of our member states will stand us in good stead, especially as we recognize the importance of working together. The latest example of such a plan is “Saudi Vision 2030” in which the overall stated vision is “Saudi Arabia: the Heart of the Arab and Islamic World, the Investment Powerhouse, and the Hub connecting Three Continents.” This is a powerful national statement of intent but in many ways it sums up the future for all GCC states. Geographically we are central; historically, culturally, and through religion we are influential; and in terms of investment we have the resources to stimulate growth for ourselves, for the region, and globally.

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Remarks from the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting

The National Council is pleased to share remarks from specialists who participated in the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

For the many who are unaware of the Annual Gulf Research Meetings (GRM) in Cambridge, it is a gold mine of information, insight, knowledge, and understanding regarding the Gulf. Among the many yearly international conferences that focus on Arabia and the Gulf, arguably at once the world’s most strategically vital yet least understood region, few if any come close to this one.

Certainly, no comparably focused international forum is known to match the timeliness and context, or the nature, background, and preparation, that go into the planning and administration of the GRM’s annual three-day event, which is held in one of the loveliest, liveliest, and most intellectually stimulating settings imaginable.

Participants at the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting at Cambridge University. Photo: Gulf Research Center.

Participants at the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting at Cambridge University. Photo: Gulf Research Center.

In this regard, the Seventh Annual GRM was no different. Included were eleven separate and simultaneous workshops. And, as in each of the previous years, 300 participants, among whom again were fewer than 20 Americans, actively engaged in the give and take of the discussion periods and the question and answer sessions integral to the proceedings. 

Each of the presentations at the annual GRMs occurs only after nearly an entire year’s preparation.The brainchild of the GRM is Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, founder of the Gulf Research Center (GRC), with offices in Jeddah, Geneva, and Cambridge (About whom, see more below).

The National Council is proud to be a partner with the GRC as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding entered into in 2015.

The GRM has quickly established itself as an extraordinary example of what can transpire if the visionaries are extraordinary, the topics exceptionally timely and relevant, and the workshops carefully organized to exhibit the best of existing scholarship on the region from scholars from throughout the world, especially younger scholars, analysts, and academics among tomorrow’s emerging leaders. In all, more than two thousand scholars have participated in the seven GRMs to date. Some forty books produced and distributed by some of the world’s most prominent publishers have been but one among others of the remarkable results of the yearly proceedings.

GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al Zayani addresses a meeting organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and its U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee on September 18, 2015, in Washington, DC. Seated to the right of the Secretary General is H.E. Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Ambassador of Bahrain to the U.S., and seated to the left of the Secretary General is National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al Zayani addresses a meeting organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and its U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee on September 18, 2015, in Washington, DC. Seated to the right of the Secretary General is H.E. Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Ambassador of Bahrain to the U.S., and seated to the left of the Secretary General is National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

In order to place the GRC and the GRM in context, three short, incisive pieces follow. The first is extracted from the Council Chronicle, the periodic newsletter of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. The second is the GRM’s introductory address by Stuart Laing, former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Kuwait and Oman, Cambridge University Deputy Vice Chancellor, and Master of Corpus Christi College. The third, which will follow separately, is the keynote address at the opening session of the Seventh Annual Gulf Research Meeting by H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Dr. John Duke Anthony
Founding President and CEO
National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations
Washington, DC

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Fall 2016 Model Arab League Opportunities

2016-17 Model Arab League registration is open!

Students at a Model Arab League conference.

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations cordially invites you and your students to participate in a Model Arab League conference this fall. Model Arab League is a debate-based simulation of the 22-member League of Arab States open to both high school and university students.

Each year thousands of students participate in Model Arab Leagues across the United States and the world. Through participation in the Model Arab League program students develop essential skills from leadership and public speaking to critical thinking and writing, all while also gaining practical, immediate knowledge about a critical region – the Middle East and the Arab world.

Model Arab League students vote during a conference in Washington, DC.

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Council Chronicle Vol. 9, No. 2 Now Available

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations is pleased to provide the 29th edition of the Council Chronicle, the Council’s periodic newsletter. The Chronicle seeks to keep the Council’s alumni, donors, and other supporters informed and updated, expanding the nature and extent of the Council’s efforts in pursuit of its vision and mission. One among other efforts to do so on an ongoing basis is achieved by presenting highlights and special reports on the Council’s programs, projects, events, and activities. For new readers interested in learning more about the Council’s vision and mission, and for ongoing supporters keen to keep abreast of the Council’s accomplishments, together with the ways and means it utilizes to pursue both objectives, please read on and visit the Council’s website at ncusar.org.

ACCESS Council Chronicle Vol. 9, No. 2 (.pdf)

Model Arab League pictures from Council Chronicle, Vol. 9, No. 2.

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Counter-Terrorism and Saudi Arabia

On June 9, 2016, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing on “Counter-Terrorism and Saudi Arabia” in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Nawaf Althari, Counter-Terrorism Adviser for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Permanent Mission to the United Nations, addresses a National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Capitol Hill public affairs briefing on June 9, 2016.

The featured specialist was Mr. Nawaf Althari, Counter-Terrorism Adviser for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and Member, U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and Subcommittee on Sanctions, served as moderator and facilitator.

A video recording and a podcast of the program are available below. The podcast can also be found in iTunes along with recordings of other National Council programs: http://bit.ly/itunes-ncusar.

“Counter-Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: A Conversation with the United Nations’ Nawaf Althari” podcast (.mp3)

Dr. John Duke Anthony on “America, Arabia, and the Gulf: At a Crossroads?”

On May 11, 2016, Dr. John Duke Anthony spoke to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs on the subject “America, Arabia, and the Gulf: At a Crossroads?” A video recording of the program is available below, and a podcast of the program is also available below as well as in iTunes with recordings of other National Council programs: http://bit.ly/itunes-ncusar.

Dr. John Duke Anthony – “America, Arabia, and the Gulf: At a Crossroads?” podcast (.mp3)

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Presents its First-Ever Global Philanthropic and Humanitarian Achievements Award to His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud

Washington, DC: On May 8, 2016, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (National Council) was honored and privileged to present its first-ever Global Philanthropic and Humanitarian Achievements Award to HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud. The award was presented in recognition of his tireless and magnanimous efforts in helping to build a world of greater tolerance, acceptance, respect, equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, Council Board Member Ms. Paige Peterson, and Council Executive Vice President Mr. Patrick Mancino personally conveyed the award to Prince Alwaleed.

Dr. Anthony noted that Prince Alwaleed, through his charitable organization Alwaleed Philanthropies, has pledged to donate his entire $32 billion fortune to charity. In making this promise, Prince Alwaleed said: “Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, which I embarked upon more than three decades ago and is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith. With this pledge, I am honoring my lifelong commitment to what matters most – helping to build a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world for generations to come.”

Alwaleed Philanthropies serves millions of people across the globe. It collaborates with a range of philanthropic, governmental, and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief, and create cultural understanding through education. Prince Alwaleed has already donated $3.5 billion over 35 years to find impactful solutions to some of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time, without regard to gender, race, or religious affiliation.

Information about Alwaleed Philanthropies can be found at alwaleedphilanthropies.org.

Information about the National Council can be found at ncusar.org.

In Memoriam, A Giant Has Fallen: Clovis Maksoud (1926-2016)

This past week, a larger than life figure among us fell physically. Although in our presence his body is no more, as example, as role model, and as inspiration, he is still in front of, beside, and behind us – and will remain so for a very long time to come.

Ambassador Clovis Maksoud’s reputation was legendary as far back as during my studies at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in the 1960s.

Whenever one had the privilege and pleasure to meet and be with as well as briefed by Clovis, regardless of the subject, one could not but revel in his perennially upbeat personality and marvel at the many unrivaled aspects of his professionalism. Among humanity’s orally gifted and silver-tongued orators, Clovis could be, and in numerous instances was, nothing short of spellbinding. Certainly, he earned my awe early on. Never once in my presence did he use notes or even have, for easy recall, a slip of paper tucked away on which he had written something.

Whatever the subject he happened to be addressing, Clovis was invariably not only articulate; he was also frequently eloquent. His delivery and diction were flawless. Indeed, one at times had reason to wonder whether he had switched languages, for his use of English could be inventive – more than a few will acknowledge that, sometimes, it took a bit of getting used to the kinds of words and phrases he used with unsurpassed exactitude to hammer home his points. Even now one can hear him thundering about the cause that remained to the end dearer to him than any other, that of the Palestinians.

Who can forget Clovis’ forever repeating that, among the biggest obstacles to strengthening and expanding the Arab-U.S. relationship were the United States’ history and policies with respect to Palestine? These, he never tired of emphasizing, lay at the heart of what he aptly termed America’s “crisis of conscience.”

H.E. Ambassador Clovis Maksoud (1926-2016).

H.E. Ambassador Clovis Maksoud (1926-2016).

What Clovis was and stood for to the last – in the way of unbridled conviction, steadfast commitment, and unflinching moral courage – are bedrock guidelines by which one can live a purposeful, meaningful, and contributive life. What he epitomized – in his manners and elemental decency, in his unfailing kindness, and in his manifesting the gamut of Arab, Islamic, Middle Eastern Christian, Druze, and other humanistic values, ideals, and principles to which so many aspire – has left an indelible impression not just upon me but many.

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