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Gulf Cooperation Countries - GCC

 

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries -Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman-. The GCC was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 1981. The purpose of the GCC is to achieve unity among its members based on their common objectives and their similar political and cultural identities.

This area has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, mostly due to a boom in oil and natural gas revenues coupled with a building and investment boom backed by decades of saved petroleum revenues. In an effort to build a tax base and economic foundation before the reserves run out, the UAE's investment arms, including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, retain over $900 billion in assets. Other regional funds also have several hundreds of billions of dollars of assets under management.

Despite meaningful similarities, no Gulf state resembles the other. Each country is unique! UAE can showcase all the different facets, Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas industry, on one hand, has a share of more than 50% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On the other hand, Dubai’s oil resources have declined significantly as Dubai's focus has shifted to different sectors like tourism, construction, trade, and services. Although the other Emirates are not as rich as Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Sharjah are also experiencing rapid economic upturn.

Like in Abu Dhabi, the majority of economic products in Qatar and Kuwait are derived from the oil and gas industry. Furthermore, Qatar is undergoing an enormous construction boom which attracts many foreign investors. Likewise, Oman is working on diversifying its economy, but it still represents a more traditional Arabic country.

The region is also an emerging hotspot for events, including the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. Doha also submitted an unsuccessful application for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Qatar was later chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

A common market was launched on 1 January 2008 with plans to realize a fully integrated single market. It eased the movement of goods and services. However, implementation lagged behind after the 2009 financial crisis. The creation of a customs union began in 2003 and was completed and fully operational on 1 January 2015. In January 2015, the common market was also further integrated, allowing full equality among GCC citizens to work in the government and private sectors, social insurance and retirement coverage, real estate ownership, capital movement, access to education, health and other social services in all member states.

However, some barriers remained in the free movement of goods and services. The coordination of taxation systems, accounting standards and civil legislation is currently in progress. The interoperability of professional qualifications, insurance certificates and identity documents is also underway.

The Gulf Cooperation Council launched common economic projects to promote and facilitate integration. The member states have cooperated in order to connect their power grids. A water connection project was launched and plans to be partly in use by 2020. A project to create common air transport was also unveiled.

The GCC also launched major rail projects in order to connect the peninsula. The railways are expected to fuel intra-regional trade while helping reduce fuel consumption. Over $200 billion will be invested to develop about 40,000 kilometers of rail network across the GCC, according to Oman’s Minister of Transport and Communications. The project, estimated to be worth $15.5 billion, is scheduled to be completed by 2018. It will link the six member states as a regional transport corridor, further integrating with the national railway projects, deepening economic social and political integration from a sustainable perspective.