Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, Chairman of the Board of Al Jazeera Media Network, delivered the opening speech at the 12th Al Jazeera Forum entitled, “The Gulf, the Arabs and the World amid Current Developments”. The forum brought together political leaders, intellectuals, journalists and activists from all over the world.
In his speech, Sheikh Hamad said that the forum is a significant platform for discussing Arab issues and global developments. He noted that the 12th edition of the forum demonstrates that Al Jazeera is particularly keen on examining, with honesty and clarity, the political, economic and social aspects that are of interest to the Arab citizens.
"The Gulf crisis has cost us a great deal, not only within the GCC, but also in the Arab world as a whole," he noted.
Sheikh Hamad pointed out that 2017 witnessed a number of significant events and developments, most important of which was the expansion of foreign intervention in Arab affairs, noting that "our region has become an arena for regional and international tensions." He also noted that the Gulf crisis imposed by the besieging countries added more problems to the already tense Arab climate, let alone other international events that affected the course of events in the region. As a result, he added, the situation in the Arab region has become more complex, and its future is now open to all possibilities.
Sheikh Hamad maintained that the Gulf crisis triggered by the blockading countries, has made the Arab matters worse and has raised questions about the previously unquestionable Arab national security and Arab countries' relations with regional alliances. It has also reshaped the Arab positions on global transformations.
"It is no secret that the blockade was a blow to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a threat to its future," he said. He added that the real problem faced by the GCC is the “crisis of confidence” that have reached the peoples, “a crisis which has exacerbated the situation in the Gulf and will gravely affect future relations among the GCC countries,” as each country now considers the possibility of being subject to hostility by an alliance of GCC states.
“The crisis we are experiencing in the Gulf today is deep, and involving the peoples in it is no doubt a big mistake,” he affirmed, remarking that while previous crises was limited to political leaders, this crisis has “gravely undermined trust among the peoples of the region, as well as between the region’s peoples and its leaders; and this will require much effort to reform in the future.”
“This forum offers a great opportunity to raise issues, address them transparently and truthfully, and determine and remedy the shortcomings,” Sheikh Hamad confirmed, stressing that the GCC crisis has caused “serious political damage” and fractured the peoples’ confidence in the GCC as a tool of coordination and unification, both now and in the future. He added that the negative consequences of this crisis came coincided with profound and dangerous regional and international transformations, citing the summit that brought together the two Koreas, following decades of deep-rooted differences.
"The problem in our Arab world is that we are creating profound fissures at a time when the Arab world is experiencing exceptional circumstances, thus increasing the possibility of external intervention in our region; ironically, we are suffering from this crisis while the two Koreas meet to reconcile," he said.
Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer concluded by expressing hope that "this forum will serve as a platform for dialogue and discussion of the various issues in our region, especially the impact of the blockade." He stressed the importance of discussing global developments and their impact on the Arab region and its future, “as this may help our people to acquire a deeper understanding and allow us to take proper stances”.