1981: The dawn of the GCC

40 years of the UAE: How the Gulf Cooperation Council was born.

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1981: Six rulers of Gulf forge ties to give region united voice

At 7.55pm on May 25, 1981, the first summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council began at the InterContinental hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The six rulers of the GCC nations - the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman - sat around a table to discuss how to create stronger ties between them.

After a Quran recitation, Sheikh Zayed gave the welcoming speech. The rulers then signed a document establishing the GCC. After all six had signed, the room filled with applause.

Alshathle Al Qlebe, the Tunisian secretary general of the Arab League, said after the signing that it was a big step. The council would be important, he said, in giving the Gulf countries a united voice.

The first session lasted 40 minutes. The summit concluded the following day with statements by the leaders about the council's role in regional security, saying stability was a responsibility for all its citizens and countries.

They emphasised their refusal of any foreign interference in the region and expressed the need to solve the Palestinian conflict.

They added that they wanted an end to the Iran-Iraq war, which they saw as a threat to the security of the region.

* osalem@thenational.ae