A number of intellectuals and writers from Qatar and the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries affirmed that the historical and cultural unity that brings together the people of the region represents a source of inspiration for unity and strengthens the bonds of brotherhood among the people in the Gulf.
In special statements to Qatar News Agency (QNA), they stressed, on the occasion of Doha's hosting of the 44th Gulf Summit today, that increasing cohesion between people who are united by one identity is achieved through culture that enhances the spirit of understanding and brotherhood among everyone, especially considering the interest of Their Majesties and Highnesses in cultural affairs.
Speaking to QNA, Qatari novelist and academic Dr Ahmed Abdul Malik said that culture in its various forms constitutes a solid basis for relations between neighbouring countries due to the imperatives of history and geography, which bring together countries. He pointed out that GCC cultural relations are rooted since ancient times before the establishment of the GCC in 1981, which led to a demographic and cultural unity automatically, and without official decisions.
He explained that the easy movement of citizens between the countries of the region has formed the basis for social, economic and cultural unity, so the features of tangible and intangible heritage are very similar, as are dialects, tastes, visual arts, songs, and trends in thinking about key issues of the Arab nation.
Dr Abdul Malik pointed out that Article 4 of the GCC Charter is concerned with the objectives that the Council seeks, including educational and cultural affairs. He expressed his hope that the cultural issue would receive more support and deeper research from the General Secretariat of the Gulf Co-operation Council, especially in light of the individual efforts made by members of society in supporting the elements of culture, such as arts and literature, in various GCC countries.
In his statement to QNA, the Qatari novelist and academic expressed his aspiration to strengthen cultural gatherings among writers and creators of the GCC countries in a way that reflects their pride in their identity and openness to the civilisations of nations and people, and enriches the rich cultural journey of the Gulf countries.
For his part, the Saudi poet and critic Dr Adel Khamis al-Zahrani believes that cultural co-operation is inevitable if we keep in mind the dimensions of the common identity among the people of the Gulf Co-operation Council, from geography to language, religion, culture, similar customs, and traditions, among others.
Dr al-Zahrani said in a statement that GCC countries also share the urgent desire to grow, develop, and build a bright future that guarantees sustainable development for its citizens. Culture in all its forms is an important factor in raising awareness of the necessity of agreement, co-operation, joint and organised work, he explained, and pointed to the remarkable development being witnessed in understanding this matter and the work to consolidate it and to enhance awareness of it through joint plans and through the various programmes, activities and events that are being witnessed.
He pointed out that the people of the Gulf countries are well aware about how to receive these visions that the strategies seek to achieve. This is because hope is shared among the people of the Gulf, supported by the adherence of the citizens of the GCC countries to their leaders and their belief that these leaders always seek the development and wellbeing of their people.
He noted that he was a witness to the joyful cultural movement among the people of the Gulf, where intellectuals meet in conferences, forums, and literary and cultural festivals throughout the year, adding that these meetings result in cognitive and cultural projects and works that increase the unity of this cohesive Gulf fabric despite its different backgrounds. At the same time, they constitute a model for future generations, a model that celebrates culture and recognises its centrality in building the human being and his future.
In turn, the Omani author and journalist Mohamed al-Yahyai said the cultural and civilisational commonality between GCC countries is large and diverse despite the presence of some barely noticeable differences.
He explained that language, literature, and works of art are not the only commonality among Gulf societies, as there are dialects, which are an element of cultural commonality that social studies and human studies overlook. He noted that dialects bear characteristics of man's common roots in this region and his movement, before the oil era and the emergence of the modern state, and pointed out that images of cultural commonality include fashion, food, and oral heritage (folk tales and songs), which need more joint research and documentation, not just at the country level.
The Omani author explained that there are projects and achievements carried out by cultural institutions in each GCC country, but it is now important to think about launching major joint projects, such as establishing a Gulf union or association for authors and similar things for dramatists and musicians, or a Gulf-funded research institution concerned with social studies and other projects that present the GCC in its common cultural and civilisational image.
In turn, Kuwaiti author and novelist Saud Alsanousi saw that the reality of Gulf individual work represents a significant movement at the level of each country, affirming that the remarkable interest in culture, arts, and literature in the Gulf countries confirms their important role in preserving the identity of societies and investing in culture to advance people.
He pointed out that cultural interest varies from one country to another and added that there are countries that work more than others to advance Gulf culture effectively through literary and artistic festivals, incentive awards for creative people, reading competitions for young people, and many cultural activities throughout the year.
Alsanousi said that GCC countries need to pay attention to joint cultural events instead of each country working individually. For example, a Gulf festival for culture, arts, and literature should be held yearly in one of the GCC countries, like the Gulf Cup, he said, adding that Gulf citizens, both creatives and recipients, can participate in this festival, which can also host Arab and international names.
He stressed that such joint events would extend cultural bridges between the people of the Gulf and exchange creative production among them.
The GCC cultural strategy 2020-2030 paid great attention to strengthening its cultural identity by supporting, protecting and circulating the Arabic language as a language of communication and creativity, and encouraging the cultural product linked to the cultural identity of GCC countries. In addition, it promotes scientific research and writing to study and analyse the concept of cultural identity and its tangible and intangible elements as well as to preserve cultural heritage and exchange experiences in this regard.
The joint cultural strategy pursued by the GCC countries is one of the most important items of its comprehensive development plan, which seeks to develop intellectual structures by describing culture as the basis for the cohesion of the nation and its civilisation and the development of cultural giving. In addition it aims to imbue and preserve the Arab-Islamic cultural identity, consolidating the Islamic national content, and confronting attempts of cultural appropriation that enhance cultural unity and civil society institutions, and whose projects confirm that heritage is a source of inspiration and not just static texts. In addition, it aims to give importance to the role of the classical Arabic language in absorbing the era, and the necessity of dialogue with other cultures to establish common human values.