GCC boosts drive to unify naval operations

Updated 09 March 2015

GCC boosts drive to unify naval operations

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has stepped up efforts to unify naval operations and to set up a joint maritime security force to respond to the increased threats of conflict in the regional waters.
“A joint GCC naval exercise will run until March 12,” said a GCC statement released here.
“The joint GCC naval exercise is a right step toward an ambitious goal to achieve unified naval command system, in case of emergency situations,” said the statement.
The joint naval exercise began in the UAE on Monday with the participation of naval forces of the six Gulf states. The exercise will help raise the level of GCC’s preparedness, combat efficiency and cooperation.
The aim of the exercise is to unify the naval operations of the GCC states and to exchange expertise to make the GCC navy a deterrent force in a region.
Saudi Arabia is participating in the GCC exercise with a number of naval units, boats, special naval security units and Super Puma aircraft.
A local GCC official contacted by Arab News on Saturday could not provide details on the plan of setting up a strong GCC naval force.
On maritime threats, a report published recently said that “threats to regional waters over the past year have extended from the Strait of Hormuz further south to the Bab Al-Mandal gateway in Yemen and north to the Red Sea.”
The report has quoted Maj. Gen. Ahmed Yousif Al-Mulla, a Kuwaiti defense official, as saying that “the new force is expected to be formed within coming months.”
The creation of a GCC force will complement international efforts in the field of maritime security, especially at a time when radical groups and militants have become very active in the waters. These groups are also backed by some nation states.
At a recent meeting between GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif Al-Zayani and Adm. John Miller, commander of US Naval Central Command, concerns were raised about the maritime security.
The meeting reviewed bilateral relations and military cooperation between the GCC states and the US in addition to the issues of common concern such as territorial and maritime security.
The GCC has already set up the Gulf Shield Force, which played a major role in controlling riots in Bahrain.
The six-member bloc has also decided to create a common GCC police force and a common counterterrorism body.


‘Dare to dream,’ football hero Thierry Henry tells Saudi fans

Footballing great Thierry Henry thrills fans as he signs 10 footballs on stage and tosses them to the audience. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 42 min 58 sec ago

‘Dare to dream,’ football hero Thierry Henry tells Saudi fans

  • Fans got up close and personal with the former champion during a segment called the lightning round, where Henry had to answer questions in 10 seconds

DHAHRAN: Stepping onto the Tanween stage in front of a sold-out venue full of cheering fans, footballing great Thierry Henry was quick to say how “hyped” he was to meet his Saudi supporters.
As a guest and speaker at Tanween Season, the former Arsenal striker and French international faced a busy schedule on Saturday after arriving at King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran.
First, he had a “meet and greet” with fans, many wearing Arsenal shirts, which was quickly followed by a discussion of the theme for this year’s event, “Play.”
After two young footballers from Riyadh performed a series of tricks that included balancing a football on one leg, then kicking it in the air to land on their backs, Henry said: “I would have broken my back trying to do that. It’s not easy.”
On his second visit to Saudi Arabia — the first was to Riyadh last year — Henry said that he was impressed by this year’s Tanween theme since he had seen firsthand the results of a children’s quality-of-life program at Tanween.
“What I liked most was to see the smiles on the faces of those children when I was walking around the impressive building. Being able to dream is key for me, but seeing how the youngsters were interacting, and how happy they were with their families walking around, was just priceless,” he said.
Growing up, Henry’s father played an important role in his development. The footballer did not miss a beat when answering that his father was his idol. “My dad was the hardest man to please; to put a smile on his face was the hardest thing to do,” he said.
Although the footballer grew up in a “not so great” Paris neighborhood, he considered it an enriching cultural experience. “It was great for me at the time because it allowed me to travel, although I wasn’t really traveling,” he said.
France’s colonial history meant he was exposed to different cultures early in his life.
“If I going upstairs to have couscous, to the second floor to have Senegalese food, or to eat with the Portuguese downstairs, it allowed me to travel, staying where I was,” he explained.
During his talk Henry showed that his Arabic extends to common niceties such as “shukran,” “afwan” and “alsalamau alaikum.”
Having an impact on the English Premier League and his role in Arsenal’s record-breaking era almost two decades ago are more important to him that being considered the world’s best striker, he said. As for his favorite stadium, Henry was quick to choose Highbury.
Offering advice to younger Saudis in the audience, Henry urged them to face their problems calmly and cleverly.
“Don’t run away. Face it and don’t be scared to fail. Come back again, but smarter,” he said.
Fans got up close and personal with the former champion during a segment called the lightning round, where Henry had to answer questions in 10 seconds. That revealed that he has always admired Muhammad Ali as the greatest, Messi is his current favorite football player and winning the World Cup was the most memorable moment in his career.
After the talk, Henry thrilled the crowd — a reminder of his playing days — by tossing 10 footballs to lucky fans who cheered as he left the stage.