Even though a nation has been viewed for a long time through the prism of its heritage, as well as its contribution to the rest of the world, it seems that a new approach of evaluating a nation is soon coming into full force – a country and a nation is soon going to be represented by its existing sub-communities, which means that no imagined tradition is going to be a part of a nation’s image.
As it has been noted by King Abdallah in his Saudi Arabian National Dialogue, a state – or a kingdom, for that matter – is going to be represented as a mixture of the existing communities.
Hence, the kingdom was to incorporate such communities as Shia, such parties as Liberal Reformers and such issues as the rates of unemployment and gender concerns. Judging by the fact that the concerns above were raised meant that the national integrity of the state was threatened, especially in the light of the conflict between the USA and Iraq.
Still going on, the conflict which was further referred to as the ‘Saudi national debate’ has transcended the boundaries of critiquing the political issues in the state and has become the voice of the national dissatisfaction with the country’s policies, which poses a threat to the current religious situation, as well as the relationships with Al-Saud.
Developing into a debate concerning the national identity, the above-mentioned issue has become quite a problem in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Spiced with the complicacies within the society and economy of the GCC states, as well as a number of existential problems, the issue of national identity has been blown out of proportions, which the leaders of Iran and the rest of the Gulf States have recently admitted.
Even with the results of the economic crisis of 2008, which has made it possible to level up the demographic issues, the economic tendencies in the GCC countries remain the same. It must be admitted, though, that the decay of economics has allowed people to see the political impotence of the heads of the countries, as well as the inconsistency of their social contract policies; apart from Bahrain, the policies of the GCC countries leave much to be desired.
Still, it is necessary to mention that the national integrity of the GCC countries is not going to disappear completely – there are still certain cultural, political and ethnical specifics which will never be washed away by the sands of time.
Indeed, the phenomenon of national identity is built of some concepts tracing which will require going back in history before the GCC states became independent. It is essential to mention, however, that one of the main standpoints at which the national identity of the peoples of the GCC states was formed was liberation of Riyadh in 1902, which followed the memorable fight in the Masmak fortress.
It is remarkable, though, that the given event was not considered as the liberation of the people who inhabited Riyadh – the residents of the latter remained under the control of the dominating nation. Therefore, it can be considered that the Riyadh liberation was instead an event of religious significance than the one of political importance for both the rebellious unitarians, or the Wahhabis, and their opponents.
As soon as the Independent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed in 1914 and Ibn Saud, the former leader of the kingdom, was considered a perfect candidate for the position of the magistrate of Najd, the leaders of other Arabian countries, or, to be more exact, the rulers of Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, were chosen to play the Ottoman role since 1870s.
Among the rest of the changes which have been made to the Arabian countries which have been finally liberated, the aegis of the British Empire should be mentioned; however, the latter did not score well in the realm of the Arabian world – Muwahhidon’s attacks took their toll on the future GCC states. Nevertheless, the Gulf countries were still ready to start their consolidation; carried out in XVIII-XIX centuries, the given process allowed for the development of the national identity of the Arabian people.
Before the oil production was turned into the critical means of growing finances for the countries which are nowadays referred to as the GCC, tribal leaders had built secure connections with the British Empire, since the latter provided sufficient help from the newly appeared countries. However, the fact that the nations mentioned above are still very young means that what is referred to as the ‘imagination of tradition’ is a rather half-baked idea.
Even though the Arabian society of the present-day world is not as homogenous as it used to be, the anonymity of belonging to a specific nation, culture or state defines the modern civilized society, which means that the Arabian countries have to reconsider their idea of emphasizing national identity. Since even the people supporting the idea of an ‘imagined political community have very vague ideas of it, it will be more appropriate for the GCC countries not to turn their sense of national identity into radical nationalism.