Dr. N. Janardhan
Program Manager, Gulf-Asia Relations
Editor, 'Gulf in the Media'
At a time when the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are attempting multi-dimensional changes that bear the potential to transform the region and Asia is experiencing a renaissance, there exists an opportunity for synergy to accomplish optimum mutual benefits even beyond the economic realm.
While the GCC-Asia interface boasts of a vibrant historic past, the interaction suffered during the reign of colonial powers. In the recent past, however, several regional and international events have given scope for the reestablishment of the old bonhomie.
The new age of "Arab-Asian cooperation" and "East-East opportunity" is evident in the Singapore-inspired Asia-Middle East Dialogue, which was first held in Singapore in 2005. The next intergovernmental meeting is scheduled to be held in Cairo later this year and in Bangkok thereafter.
At the first meeting, Singapore's Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said, "Relations between the Middle East and the West have been historically difficult. But there are no deep historical, cultural, religious or ideological barriers preventing better relations between the Middle East and Asia...On the contrary, the links between our regions are ancient; the historical influences on each other profound. It was only in the last century or so, with colonialism and the Cold War, that we neglected each other. But the ancient links are now being re-established. It is in our interest that the Middle East develops and prospers. It is in the interest of Middle East countries to plug into the Asian grid."
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