World Peace

Most readers will be aware there are political problems in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has fallen out with Qatar and has convinced four other members of the GCC to impose sanctions on Qatar. And I think I know the reason why and how to solve the problem. It all has to do with swimming.

Let me explain – the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional political organisation comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). You see, after a year in a boutique slum hotel in Saudi Arabia, I know all about the GCC. Every year the pinnacle of GCC unity is expressed in an annual swimming championship. Other sports pale in comparison. At the annual GCC Swimming Championships honour is at stake, big time. Saudi Swimming had a prince member of the royal family in charge and employed a New Zealand CEO in an effort to win the championship. Sadly it has never worked.

Year after year Kuwait wins the championships, followed closely by Qatar, then the UAE, then Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Oman usually trails the field. I learned early in my stay that a country like Saudi Arabia is not at all happy with fifth place. The biggest country, the leader of the Arab world finds it difficult to accept being beaten by minions like Qatar and Bahrain. Millions of oil dollars are spent sending swimmers around the world, employing foreign coaches and paying swimmers a living allowance. And it has never worked. Championships come and go and Saudi Arabia is fifth again.

Vision may be the problem. The CEO has bought himself the most massive American SUV. I swear his wife must have prepared a cushion with embroidered kiwis to lift him above the steering wheel.

Unable to beat their GCC partners in the pool, I am convinced, the Saudi authorities decided to stop the competition. Someone filed a complaint with FINA about Kuwait. The accusation was that Kuwait was winning because they were importing foreign swimmers. FINA agreed and Kuwait was banished from the championships. Saudi Arabia was now up to fourth place. One more place and a bronze medal would be theirs.

So now you know why Qatar has been expelled from the GCC. After years in the wilderness, in the 2017 GCC Swimming Championships, Qatar will not be able to compete and Saudi Arabia will be the third placed nation. Saudi Arabia is edging up the table. Honour is being restored.

It seemed important to convey this information to world leaders. Perhaps they could pressure Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain swimmers to swim slowly and let Saudi Arabia win. Saudi Arabia could have its victory without the disruption to travel and commerce caused by the current ban.

I took my plan to 10 Downing Street. Unfortunately Theresa May was out at the Berlitz School learning Irish. I didn’t have much luck in Washington DC either. Rex Tillerson was too busy removing dandruff from Donald Trump’s suit and Kelly Ann Conway was receiving a fair and honest award from Fox News. I did see the Education Secretary, Nancy de Vos, who said she was pleased that global warming was not affecting the life cycle of glaciers in Kuwait.

Normal world leaders in France and Germany did seem taken with my plan. Sufficiently so that through their diplomatic efforts I believe Saudi Arabia could well win the 2017 GCC Swimming Championships. And the world will be at peace again.  

Post Script – GCC Championship results are a sad reflection on the standard of swimming in the area. It is terrible that Saudi Arabia is unable to win a competition where the men’s races (there are no women) are won in very slow times. For example in 2016:

800 Free 8:52.80, 100 Free 52.78, 200 Fly 2:13.43, 400 Free 4:14.38, 1500 Free 17:14.94, 100 Breast 1:07.20, 200 Back 2:09.60, 50 Fly 24.90.    


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