Leaders from the 22 member countries of the Arab League, who will be gathering in Nouakchott, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for the 27th Arab League Summit on 25 and 26 July, hope to nurture greater cooperation and joint actions among member states, with the aim of ensuring sustainable development and prosperity for Arab people.
According to the Arab League charter, the host country for the annual Arab Summit is decided upon by alphabetic order of member countries. Egypt hosted the event in 2015 and was to be followed by Morocco in April 2016.
Mauritania had to step in to host the summit following the announcement by Morocco that it would not host the summit as the conference’s putative pretense of Arab unity would not align with the truth of increasing disunity among Arab countries.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for joint Arab action over the coming period to focus on overcoming poverty, providing dignified living conditions, and human rights, as bases for sustainable development.
Addressing a preparatory meeting for the Arab economy and trade ministers, ahead of the 27th Arab Summit, the Arab League chief highlighted the rising economic and social challenges on the national, regional and international levels. He urged joining efforts to promote Arab economic integration and called for serious and persistent efforts to promote the Arab economic and social action. He also spoke about developing a mechanism for interacting with the relevant international changes, so that the Arab countries could react to the shocks that hit the world's economy.
For his part, Undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Said Abdullah expressed his hope that the 27th summit would produce positive and practical resolutions to push ahead the Arab economic integration to realize welfare and prosperity for all Arabs.
The Secretary-General also proposed convening the Arab development summit every four years, to be ahead of the UN General Assembly, so as to be able to coordinate the Arab stances and follow up the strategies and plans for the implementation of its goals.
Warning against the grave repercussions of terrorism on development plans in the Arab world, the Secretary-General emphasized the momentousness of the Nouakchott Summit, which, he said, “convenes amid the deep challenges in the Arab region, namely the changes sweeping it since 2011, and the ensued threat to state authority and decline of standards of living.” The spread of the terrorism phenomenon and terrorist groups' criminal acts have aggravated such negative implications, he added.
The Syrian conflict is expected to loom large during the two-day summit as it is expected to be the most important matter that Arab leaders will need to address until a satisfactory resolution is reached. In past summits held in Baghdad, Doha, Kuwait, and Sharm El-Sheikh between 2012 and 2015, Arab leaders had repeatedly called for an the end to the situation in Syria and reiterated the need to find a solution through regional and international efforts led by the UN.
The upcoming summit in Nouakchott will be yet another chance for the Arab leaders to address this grave matter in hopes that the Syrian people will finally have peace in their country.
One of Africa’s newest oil producers, Mauritania, which gained independence from France in 1960 and joined the Arab League in 1970, is often seen as the Arab world’s gateway to Africa. The summit is a historical event for Mauritania, as it is the first time that the country is hosting the leaders of the Arab League. President Mohammad Ould Abdul Aziz, who took office in 2009, and was reelected in 2014, is hoping the Arab summit will help foster joint cooperation among Arab nations in various fields, while furthering national unity in Mauritania as he works to increase trade and development in his country.