Jeddah Summit… The Summit of Five Minutes

Mohammed al-Hammadi 

Emirati journalist 

The style and manner of the 32nd Arab Summit were those of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. With its emphasis on work and achievement, it became successful. Everyone who attended or watched the Jeddah Summit recognized that there was something very different about it.

Besides the solid organization and the work that went into laying the groundwork for it, the most prominent of this summit’s distinguishing features was the length and content of the speeches. Each head of state was given only five minutes to deliver his remarks, and this decision made the difference...

Indeed, for the first time, most of the speeches were clear to everyone listening. This is a sharp contrast to previous summits, when the last thing the speakers thought about was time, making their speeches long-winded, repetitive, and incoherent, and leaving everyone watching (and even those in attendance) disinclined to follow them!

This time, a limit was set. Most speakers abided by it, making these five minutes golden. As for Crown Prince Mohammed’s speech, it was pithy and clear. Despite being no more than three minutes and 35 seconds long, it covered the central ideas and key issues on the minds of both those at the summit and the Arab street.

In his speech, the Crown Prince assured “neighboring countries and friends in the West and the East” that “we are moving forward for peace, goodness, cooperation and construction in a way that achieves our peoples’ interests and safeguards our nation’s rights. We will not allow our region to turn into fields of conflict. It is enough for us to turn the page of the past by remembering the painful years of conflicts the region lived through, as they caused suffering for its people and faltered the development process.”

He also stressed that “the Arab world has the cultural and civilization underpinnings, the human capital and natural resources, it needs to take an advanced and leading position and to achieve a comprehensive renaissance for our states and our people.”

Moreover, his speech focused on the core issues, stressing the need to support and stabilize Syria, the centrality of the Palestinian cause, the importance of dialogue for resolving the Sudanese crisis, the need to find a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis, and to support efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine politically...

Crown Prince Mohammed wanted to grant the summit a global dimension as well. The Russian-Ukrainian war thus took its place at the summit through the attendance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Arab world thereby sent a message to the West and the world reaffirming that it has not taken sides in the conflict and that it wants peace and an end to this war.

Crown Prince Mohammed managed to bring opposites together through outstanding diplomacy. Facing Zelensky was Bashar al-Assad, who chose to remove his translation headphones during the Ukrainian president’s speech and whose country has unequivocally sided with Russia against Ukraine!

As for the Arabs, they shared two important sentiments. First, they were all keen on taking part and ensuring the success of the summit. Second, feel the same sense of urgency regarding the need to resolve the crises of the region, especially its Arab crises and the return of Syria.

As for the 12 articles of the Jeddah Declaration, they addressed several issues, both recurrent and newly emerging. The most important of them are: stressing opposition to foreign meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries, emphasizing respect for the values and cultures of others, as well as the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states; reaffirming the centrality of the Palestinian cause and protecting Jerusalem from attempts to change its identity; reiterating rejection of support for armed groups and militias that are not accountable to state institutions; supporting international and regional efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis; helping the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen establish security and stability, fortifying Arab efforts to help Syria resolve its crisis; recognizing the meetings between the Sudanese factions in Saudi Arabia - a step that can be built upon in ending the crisis; and rejecting any meddling in Sudanese affairs, as this would fuel the conflict.

Finally, this summit was distinguished by its distance from politics and its proximity to economics and the daily lives of Arab citizens... The Jeddah Declaration called for the promotion of research into sustainability and economic development. It also advocated embracing new paths and ideas in the field of sustainable development and called for shedding light on the importance of sustainable development initiatives in the Arab region.

The declaration also affirmed that Arab citizens have the right to sustainable development, security, stability, and peace. It also stated that this can only be achieved through a collaborative joint effort to curb crime and corruption on all levels, as well as channeling our energies and capabilities to building a future founded on creativity, innovation and keeping up with global developments, in order to ensure the security and well-being of our citizens...

These are the things that Arab citizens wanted to hear. Now they want to see these words translated into action on the ground.