Both Reuters and Asharq Alawsat have articles following the groundbreaking of King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST).
Simon Webb at Reuters focuses on the critical issue of academic freedom. Without it, there’s really no point to the university. But academic freedom is not something commonly considered in Saudi Arabia. Classes in the liberal arts particularly are limited in what can be discussed, what can be researched, what lines of thought are simply impermissible under the narrow and austere culture and religion practiced in the KSA. It’s somewhat better in the sciences as scientific fact is generally respected. But there are still problems such as the lack of any teaching of evolution in Saudi schools. This is fundamental in the biological sciences and extends its reach into chemistry, including petroleum sciences.
Saudi trumpets new university’s independence
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – The atmosphere on the King Abdullah campus should be that of a high-quality college anywhere else in the world — a mood of free thought, equality and easy mingling among independent-minded men and women.
Anywhere but Saudi Arabia, that is. Most educational establishments in the conservative kingdom are rigidly segregated by sex. Curricula typically include obligatory courses on the country’s austere brand of Islam, and little criticism of the ruling Saudi establishment is tolerated.
The planned new $3 billion graduate-research university overlooking the Red Sea north of Jeddah will be the first outside the control of the higher education ministry, and the conservative kingdom says it aims to ensure its academic freedom.
Without that freedom, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will not be able to attract the international academic staff and graduate students needed to ensure world-level research, academics say.
“Without academic freedom there simply is no university,” Frank Rhodes, president emeritus of Cornell University in the United States and a member of an international advisory panel on KAUST’s development, told Reuters.
Mshari Al-Zaydi, writing in Asharq Alawsat, writes about what has happened in Saudi Arabia in the recent past that has led to the deprecation of university education standards. He notes that everything—including the sciences—now comes burdened with religion. He approves of the fact that the KAUST project is under the wing of ARAMCO as he sees that company both as the most competent to build a university and as a model for the kind of moderation that a modern university will require.
Saudi Arabia: Entering a New Scientific and Technological Age
Last Sunday, 21 October, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz laid the cornerstone for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the village of Thuwal, north of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. The king has commissioned the heads of Saudi Aramco with the task of executing and managing the project; appointing Nadhmi A. al Nasr as the universityâ€™s interim president, Ahmad O. al Khowaiter as the interim provost of KAUST and Saudi Minister of Petroleum Ali L. al Naimi to preside over the project.
The KAUST project is a monumental undertaking in terms of budget [10 billion Saudi Riyals (SAR), approximately US $2.67 billion], in addition to the huge area allocated for the university [over 36 million square meters, including coral-reef ecosystem that will be preserved by the university as a marine sanctuary]. However, what truly marks the immense scale of this project is the â€˜philosophyâ€™ on which it is established and the opportunities it will offer the world of higher education in the kingdom.
King Abdullah hailed it the new â€˜Dar al Hikmaâ€™ (House of Wisdom) in his opening speech at the universityâ€™s grand inauguration ceremony in which distinguished international guests were in attendance. A university such as KAUST aspires to â€˜launchâ€™ scientific research to a new and unprecedented trajectory in a country that represents the heart of the global economy by virtue of its oil wealth.
Most aptly, though, he quotes ARAMCO’s president, Abdullah Jum’ah on the growing gap between Arabs and Muslims and the rest of the world:
This is the real problem in a changing world. President of Saudi Aramco Abdullah S. Jumâ€™ah said during his address before King Abdullah, â€œThere is a deep and saddening gap in knowledge that separates the Arab and Islamic people from the contemporary global civilization. This gap is rapidly and unfortunately widening.â€
Thus comes the importance of a non-traditional university such as this one to become a paradigm for how governments could participate in devoting their energy and efforts to the real causes î º rather than squandering them on marginal issues that only end up causing conflict and inciting hatred.
Asharq Alawsat‘s Editor-in-Chief interviewed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the importance of King Abdullah’s visit to the UK. The discussion focuses primarily on various crises in the Middle East and what role Saudi Arabia might play in helping resolve them.
Gordon Brown in an Interview with Asharq Al Awsat
The Saudis have done more than many
to get us to where we are â€Žtoday regarding peace
Interview by â€ŽTariq Alhomayed in London
â€¢ The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, is â€Žvisiting the United Kingdom. How do you assess the relationship â€Žbetween the two countries?â€Ž
Saudi Arabia is an important partner and ally in the Middle East and recent â€Žyears have seen this relationship broaden and deepen. This is demonstrated by â€Žthe sheer range of our bilateral political, security and commercial discussions. â€ŽOur two countries have a long history of friendship and cooperation. This visit is â€Žan opportunity to look ahead and plot the course of this relationship in the â€Žcoming years.â€Ž
â€¢ This is the first state visit for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia since ascending the â€Žthrone î º what do you think his leadership and your new leadership means for â€Žcooperation between your two countries?â€Ž
This visit presents us with the opportunity to discuss innovative responses to the â€Žchallenges which face us today; promoting global trade, confronting extremism, â€Žnuclear proliferation, conflict resolution, and climate change. These are all â€Žchallenges which require close international cooperation
and I am pleased to say â€Žthat we have similar objectives to our Saudi partners. The question is how we â€Žjointly use our assets and influence to effectively tackle these challenges to â€Žachieve our shared aim of working towards a more peaceful, just and prosperous â€Žfuture.â€Ž
â€¢ There are many developments in the Middle East, the Gulf and elsewhere that â€Žimpact both countries, what are your priorities in the region today?
In his first state visit to the UK, Saudi King Abdullah is receiving mixed reviews, to put it mildly. His comments about the UK’s not having taken seriously Saudi warnings prior to the July 7, 2005 bombings in London—the British government strenuously denies any such warnings—have particularly hit a sore point. Even more, the role, or perceived role, of the Saudi government in promoting a radically extreme form of Islam have many British commentators hopping mad.
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper runs an editorial that features a headline seen frequently in the US:
With friends like these
The House of Saud may insist they’re allies against fanaticism, but the reality is much more disturbing
In the spring of 2003, local imams in northern Iraq were worried. Not just about the impending war, but about the inroads that ultra-conservative, intolerant and aggressive strands of Islam were making among their traditionally moderate congregations. The enemy in this particular struggle was not Saddam, they said, but Saudi Arabia.
Since the Kurdish regions had established a de facto autonomy in the wake of the first Gulf war, the imam at the main mosque in Sulaymaniyah explained, hundreds of mosques had been built by Saudi Arabian religious foundations, their ultra-conservative imams imported from the Arabian peninsula. He and his fellow clerics simply did not have the means to compete with the massive aid being distributed by Saudi-based charitable organisations – aid contingent on attendance at special Qur’anic lessons, on wives or sisters wearing a veil and leaving secular political parties. Most damaging of all, he said, was the flood of pamphlets and books that pushed a worldview in which Jews, Christians, Shias and the west were cast as Muslims’ sworn enemies.
On the other end of the British political spectrum, The Times runs a series of articles about the kinds visit. Its pieces focus on the Saudi human rights record, the BAE arms sale scandal, the terrorism warning which MI-5 (the British equivalent of the FBI) finds ‘full of holes’, and the promotion of extremism in British mosques.
Asharq Alawsat runs an op-ed by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed in which he tries to put the protests to the King’s visit in perspective as well as to note areas in which Saudi Arabia remains deficient: A Visit amidst Protests and New Ideas
On the US side, The Wall St. Journal offers commentary:
Saudi Arabia’s monarch complains Britain isn’t taking terrorism seriously. He’s one to talk.
King Abdullah caused an uproar ahead of a visit to Britain this week by scolding his hosts about terrorism. But as long as the Saudi monarch has raised the subject, by all means let’s debate the kingdom’s role in promoting radical Islam.
In a BBC interview Monday, King Abdullah said that “most countries are not taking this issue [terrorism] too seriously, including, unfortunately, Great Britain.” The king also claimed, through a translator, that his security services had provided information that could have prevented the July 2005 bombings in London, implying that U.K. authorities chose to ignore it.
The royal musings didn’t go down well, perhaps because Saudi Arabia churns out manpower, money and spiritual inspiration for jihadis around the world. British intelligence service MI5 yesterday refuted the accusations, saying Saudi information was “clearly not relevant to those attacks.” But the Brits might as well press the king further on the subject by asking about Saudi Arabia’s efforts to export its state-sanctioned brand of radical Islam, Wahhabism, to madrassas and mosques around the world.
It’s my view that the Kingdom has been both sloppy and lazy in the way it approaches the religious mandate toward proselytizing. The Saudis and their strain of Islam believe it a religious duty to spread the world of Islam—their interpretation of Islam being better than others, of course. But the way they have done so has been essentially to support anyone and any organization that purports to be strictly conservative. The government publishes or subsidizes the publication and distribution of books that seem to support that conservative line. But as with much else in Saudi Arabia, these programs are based on trust. No one actually reads these books through or thinks much about what they’re saying between the lines if the black-and-white text falls within wide boundaries of what’s been said in the past or what’s been said by certain ‘authorities’ like the former Mufti Bin Baz.
Because these complaints are global, I think the Saudi government should ‘stand down’ their proselytizing efforts until it can verify the content of the books it is promoting. It should more closely examine the character and psychology of the ‘missionaries’ it sends abroad or supports. The goal of proselytizing is to gain new converts. What is happening now is that these efforts are gaining new enemies, both within and outside Islam.
While Saudi Arabia is clearly making a lot of money through high oil prices, it also has good uses to which to put that money. This Financial Times article notes how the Kingdom is looking to invest its profits into long-term, sustainable development. Alongside the stereotypical rich Saudi live the far more numerous poor Saudis, burdened with old and failing infrastructure.
New found wealth is giving the Saudi government a cushion and some breathing space in which to find solutions to serious problems including a rapidly growing population, unemployment, a failed education system, and general socio-economic inequities. The steps planned to address the problems look right. Now it’s a matter of following through.
Saudis build on oil boom
An unprecedented construction boom is gaining momentum in Saudi Arabia as highly ambitious, multi-billion-dollar projects to upgrade infrastructure and meet pressing social challenges begin to have an effect.
The boom may be less visible than in the kingdomâ€™s smaller Gulf neighbours, such as Dubai and Qatar, but the needs and the numbers are massive â€“ thousands of kilometres of new roads and railways; billions of dollars of water, sewerage and electricity plants; and 4m new housing units over the next decade, with investment of $320bn estimated to be required in housing through to 2020, according to Sagia, the kingdomâ€™s investment authority.
Estimates of the total value of projects vary as observers try to determine the difference between real and potential schemes. However, none doubts the huge scale of the plans.
Sagia officials cite a $624bn (Â£304bn, â‚¬434bn) investment programme launched last year to take the country through to 2020 as King Abdullah and his government seek to utilise the immense oil wealth the state is enjoying.
The king begins a trip to Europe on Tuesday with a state visit to the UK and he and his delegation â€“ including a posse of businessmen â€“ can be expected to showcase the boom and the opportunities it offers.
Economists put the value of projects announced so far at more than $300bn, with the construction sector growing at about 7 per cent and expected to sustain similar or higher growth through to at least 2010.
…The hope is that the boom will have a multiplier effect on non-oil private-sector growth, develop infrastructure that is in need of repair following periods of little or no growth in the 1980s and 1990s and provide a platform for more diversified economic activity.
In spite of its image as a vastly rich country boasting 25 per cent of the worldâ€™s known oil reserves, Saudi Arabia faces huge challenges as it seeks to improve services, reduce its dependence on oil, broaden the economy beyond the main centres, improve the skills of Saudi workers and tackle unemployment, which is about 12 per cent.
On the eve of his visit to the UK, Saudi King Abdullah, in an interview with the BBC, said that British anti-terror efforts are inadequate. He said that the Saudis had passed information that might have prevented the July 7, 2005 attacks in London, something the British deny.
This BBC article suggests that the King’s remarks may be linked to a lack of international action on his proposal to develop an international clearinghouse on terrorism-related information. That may be. I suspect another factor is in play—the lack of British action on Saudi requests that certain Saudi exiles (termed ‘dissidents’ by much of the Western press) be expelled from the UK. These, including Mohammed Al-Maasari and Saad Faqih, have been tagged by the Saudis (and in the case of Faqih, by the US government) as sponsors and supporters of terrorism.
Asharq Alawsat runs a news piece on this story: Saudi King says Britain Failed to Act on 7/7 Warning
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has accused Britain of not doing enough to fight international terrorism, which he says could take 20 or 30 years to beat.
He was speaking in a BBC interview ahead of a state visit to the UK – the first by a Saudi monarch for 20 years.
He also said Britain failed to act on information passed by the Saudis which might have averted terrorist attacks.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Whitehall officials have strenuously denied this.
King Abdullah is expected to arrive in the UK on Monday afternoon; his visit begins formally on Tuesday.
In the BBC interview he said the fight against terrorism needed much more effort by countries such as Britain and that al-Qaeda continued to be a big problem for his country.
BBC world affairs correspondent John Simpson says King Abdullah is annoyed that the rest of the world has largely failed to act on his proposal for a UN clearing house for information about terrorism.
Not the haram pig, but Harley-Davidson motorcycles, now marking its 10th anniversary in Saudi Arabia. Biker News reports that a rally is being held for riders to both promote the brand and promote motorcycle safety. Once you get past the heat, the KSA is a great place to ride, with wide open, straight highways. Motorcycles aren’t really great off-road in the Kingdom, though….
Saudi Arabia – Ten years of Harley Davidson’s presence in Saudi Arabia is being marked by the first official Harley Owners Group (HOG) rally to be held in the Kingdom. Over 200 HOG members participated in three days of motorcycle mania starting in Jeddah and continuing up to Durrat Al-Aroos beach resort 60 km to the city’s north.
The event kicked off with a press conference and barbecue on Wednesday to introduce the show to the press and bring many of the bikers together for a briefing.
Monther Al-Mutlaq, a hugely experienced biker himself and managing director of Al-Mutlaq and Sons, the Harley Davidson agents, said at their Andalus Road Harley shop that the event was a real milestone for motorcycling in the Kingdom.
The New York Times correspondent Thanassis Cambanis filed this report on the King Abdullah University for Science & Technology groundbreaking. He was able to visit other universities to compare the status quo with what is envisioned for the new KAUST and notes how much the King has put himself on the line to make this new university something very different. The article is a good one, worth reading in its entirety.
Saudi King Tries to Grow Modern Ideas in Desert
JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 25 â€” On a marshy peninsula 50 miles from this Red Sea port, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is staking $12.5 billion on a gargantuan bid to catch up with the West in science and technology.
Between an oil refinery and the sea, the monarch is building from scratch a graduate research institution that will have one of the 10 largest endowments in the world, worth more than $10 billion.
Its planners say men and women will study side by side in an enclave walled off from the rest of Saudi society, the countryâ€™s notorious religious police will be barred and all religious and ethnic groups will be welcome in a push for academic freedom and international collaboration sure to test the kingdomâ€™s cultural and religious limits.
This undertaking is directly at odds with the kingdomâ€™s religious establishment, which severely limits womenâ€™s rights and rejects coeducation and robust liberal inquiry as unthinkable.
For the new institution, the king has cut his own education ministry out the loop, hiring the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco to build the campus, create its curriculum and attract foreigners.
Supporters of what is to be called the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or Kaust, wonder whether the king is simply building another gated island to be dominated by foreigners, like the compounds for oil industry workers that have existed here for decades, or creating an institution that will have a real impact on Saudi society and the rest of the Arab world.
In this editorial yesterday, The Washington Post calls foul on the recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom which calls, in part, for the closure of the Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia. The Post correctly notes that the Commission is not only illogical—demanding that the Academy prove a negative—but that it didn’t bother to do its own homework in ascertaining just what is being taught at the Academy, though others were able to do so.
With products like this recent report, the Commission undercuts itself, marginalizing its reports as ill-informed at best. I put the blame for this at the feet of Nina Shea, whose view of Saudi Arabia is both ignorant and toxic.
Why not examine the curriculum of a local Saudi-backed school before condemning it?
HERE’S AN IDEA for those members of a federal panel worried about what’s being taught at a Saudi-supported school in Fairfax County. Give the academy a call and ask to take a look at the disputed works. That’s what a Fairfax supervisor did, and school officials, without hesitation, opened their doors and the books. Maybe the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is right to have qualms about the school, but its half-hearted efforts to review the disputed works and its irresponsible suggestion that the school be shut don’t inspire confidence.
The Islamic Saudi Academy was singled out by the commission in a report criticizing Saudi Arabia for promoting religious intolerance in schools it operates around the world. The commission, complaining that it couldn’t obtain textbooks and other curricular materials, urged the State Department to close the school unless it shows it doesn’t teach dangerous extremism. The school’s status is unique; as an arm of the Saudi government, it is subject to the Foreign Missions Act and broad discretion by the State Department.
Demanding that the school prove a negative is questionable, particularly since the panel’s efforts to review the material were, at best, perfunctory. It wrote to Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, chairman of the academy’s board of directors, but got no answer. No other options were pursued. Consider, by contrast, the experience of Fairfax Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D), whose Mount Vernon district includes the school’s main campus. The day the report was released, Mr. Hyland, alarmed by what he read, called the school and was immediately permitted to meet with staff members and look over materials. Mr. Hyland was reassured by what he saw in the English materials, and he told us the school is agreeable to his returning with someone able to read Arabic. The school denies teaching radical Islam, and the Saudi Embassy claims it has made materials available to the State Department as part of an ongoing effort to bring about promised reforms in textbooks.
…Certainly, there are lines of intolerance that must not be crossed: advocating violence against peoples of other religions or races or inciting terrorism of any kind. The commission presented no evidence, or even a credible suggestion, that this is occurring at the Saudi academy. Thus it was the commission that crossed a line.
Financial Times has this very interesting article about the tension between the US and Saudi economies, where the low value of the dollar is putting pressure on both the Saudi riyal and Saudi citizens. The piece notes that if the Saudis were to renominate oil prices into Euros or Yen, the price of oil in dollars would leap upward significants. While a weak dollar may be good to some extent for US exporters, the benefit could be quickly limited by the increased price of producing goods for export.
Saudi Arabia holds the key to oil and dollar link
After a generation on the sidelines, the US dollar has re-emerged as a central issue in the pricing of oil. Since the credit crunch in August, when the dollar has gone down, oil has gone up, by an average ratio of more than five to one. Since August 21, the greenback has declined 4 per cent versus the euro; West Texas Intermediate crude, the global oil benchmark, meanwhile, is up 25 per cent.
Why are commodities traders fixated on the dollar? Like other oil market puzzles, the answer may lie in Saudi Arabia.
With a booming economy and inflation ticking higher, some speculators worry that Riyadh will de-peg its currency from the dollar. And they see such a step as having the effect of re-pricing oil in euros and yen.
That is because if Saudi Arabia de-pegs and does nothing else, it will be sitting on two rapidly depreciating assets: $20,000bn in oil reserves and $800bn in US dollar reserves.
But if it were to diversify its currency reserves or oil pricing regime, then it is almost certain that the dollar would weaken. As a result, oil prices in dollar terms would have to jump to keep oil demand growth from Asia in check. For speculators with this mindset, oil at almost any price looks cheap, especially when the market is pricing in another dollar-weakening Fed cut this month. Speculators do have it right that the US and Saudi business cycles are increasingly out of sync, and that it will become more difficult for Riyadh to maintain its currency peg to the dollar without exacerbating inflation. Inflation has crept higher, from 2.3 per cent in 2006 to an annualised 3.8 per cent this July.
Simeon Kerr of Financial Times, whom I had the pleasure to meet in Jeddah, files this report on King Abdullah University for Science & Technology. He points out how many Saudis are counting on the success of the university to provide a wedge in the barriers constructed by the Saudi cultural interpretation of Islam. If the university can succeed in producing competent, effective, and profitably research, it will serve as a marker that modernity does not have to lead to moral corruption and depravity—the argument made still by many clerics. Once there is success in a non-political arena—and science and technology should be politically neutral—then the liberal arts universities can point to it as a reason why they should be modifying their own practices.
In a country where many are still taught that the Sun revolves around the Earth and where the teaching of evolution is forbidden, this is hoping for a lot. But change has to start somewhere. KAUST may provide the necessary catalyst for change.
Change is certainly possible. Kerr quotes the rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals who noted that in 1970 there were only six (6!) women in Saudi higher education; now they represent 60% of the student body.
Siraj Wahab, writing in Arab News has a piece about how attracting qualified faculty is going to be the toughest test of the new university.
Both articles are definitely worth reading.
Saudis raise higher learning
Saudi Arabia is turning the home of one of its older industries into a symbol of what the kingdom hopes is its future.
Thuwal on the Red Sea coast is a fishing port but, as part of a plan to end the kingdomâ€™s dependence on its petroleum-based economy, the government is turning it into the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, or Kaust.
The project, scheduled to open in 2009, will house up to 15,000 people, based around a graduate research-focused university.
Kaustâ€™s mooted $10bn (â‚¬7bn, Â£4.9bn) endowment, would make it one of the best funded universities in the world, helping it to forge research programmes with foreign universities, pay foreign lecturers well and lure back the best Saudi students from foreign universities.
The university is the centrepiece of the kingdomâ€™s higher-educational reform plan, which aims to boost the number of students entering university and guide them towards courses in science and education rather than religious studies and the humanities.
There has been some soul-searching about the religious domination of the education system since the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001, which were led by Saudis, and because the kingdomâ€™s schools have Âproduced generations of Âstudents ill equipped for employment in the private sector.
First Lady Laura Bush is currently visiting Jeddah, talking about the fight against breast cancer. The issue is one that has been gaining attention in Saudi Arabia, in newspaper coverage, TV and radio talk shows, and in women’s educational institutions. But stil, things that concern female bodies prove difficult to talk about for most of the Saudi public. Raising the profile of the cancer awareness programs, as the Susan B. Komen organization does, is still necessary.
Here’s how Arab News is reporting the story.
There were hopes that Mrs. Bush would attend the groundbreaking for KAUST; her scheduling didn’t permit it. Now she’s in Jeddah and I’m not and the KAUST program has moved on to the Eastern Province, with symposia on Information Technology. Some of the discussions will be focusing on shifting paradigms in how computers and computing is considered, whether as ‘all-purpose devices’ or as devices designed intentionally to manipulate databases.
Lifting the Veil From A Deadly Disease
Laura Bush Speaks With Saudi Women About Breast Cancer
Faiza Saleh Ambah
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 24 — When gynecologist Samia al-Amoudi was found last year to have breast cancer, a disease that still carries an intense stigma in this conservative country where women are forced to cover in public, she decided to share the details in her newspaper column, shocking many Saudis.
But the 50-year-old single mother insisted on telling her story in more than 30 television, magazine and newspaper interviews, trying to force a spotlight, she said, on a disease believed to be the leading cause of death among Middle Eastern women.
This week’s visit to Saudi Arabia by first lady Laura Bush, who is on a regional tour to raise awareness about breast cancer, is a windfall to Amoudi’s battle to bring the issue to the public, she said.
“The fact that there is a lot of media coverage of your visit, and people know you are here only for the purpose of spreading breast cancer awareness, that gives it importance and will really help our campaign,” Amoudi told Bush at a “Break the Silence” coffee meeting Wednesday with other breast cancer survivors.
Gulf News from the United Arab Emirates runs this piece on how Saudi women are pushing their case to be granted licenses to practice law. Usually, Saudi women who have received law degrees work in the ‘back office’ of established law firms, meeting with and counseling female clients. When it comes time to go to court, however, they must pass their cases on to male colleagues. This is the practice they seek to change.
Saudi women ‘have right to practise law’
Mariam Al Hakeem
Riyadh: Saudi women have the right to practice the legal profession, said Minister of Justice Dr Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Shaikh.
However, he noted that the issue is still being studied by a specialised committee comprising several departments, including the Ministry of Justice.
Some legal firms in the kingdom employ female lawyers, but women are not granted licences to operate their own legal offices.
The minister told reporters yesterday following a meeting of the justice ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), that the member states are keen to unify their judicial procedures.