Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf

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مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربية
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf
Map indicating CCASG members.
Map indicating CCASG members.
Headquarters Saudi Arabia Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Official languages Arabic
Type Trade bloc
 -  Secretary General Bahrain A. bin Rashid Al Zayani
 -  Supreme Council Presidency  Kuwait[1]
 -  As the GCC 25 May 1981; 33 years ago (1981-05-25) 
 -  Total 2,673,108 km2
1,032,093 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.6
 -  2014 estimate 50.761.260
 -  Density 17.37/km2
45/sq mi
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $1,640 billion
 -  Per capita $33,005
Currency Khaleeji (proposed)
a. Sum of component states' populations.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (Arabic: مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربية‎), originally (and still colloquially) known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC, مجلس التعاون الخليجي), is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[2][3]

Amidst the Bahraini uprising, Saudi Arabia and the UAE sent ground troops to Bahrain in order to quell Bahraini protests.[4] Kuwait and Oman refrained from sending troops.[4] In December 2011, Saudi Arabia proposed that the GCC form a confederation.[4] Objections have been raised against the proposal by the other countries.[5][6] There have been discussions regarding the future membership of Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen.[7][8]

During a two day summit on 10 December 2013, talks on the formation of a "Gulf Union" topped the agenda.[9] On 12 August 2014 Bahrain's prime minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, showed renewed interest in the establishment of a gulf union. He has stated that current events in the region highlighted the importance of the proposal.[10]


Established in Abu Dhabi on 25 May 1981,[11][12] the original union comprised the 630-million-acre (2,500,000 km2) Persian Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The unified economic agreement between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council was signed on 11 November 1981 in Abu Dhabi. These countries are often referred to as "the GCC states".


Among the stated objectives are:

  • Formulating similar regulations in various fields such as religious, finance, trade, customs, tourism, legislation, and administration.
  • Fostering scientific and technical progress in industry, mining, agriculture, water and animal resources.
  • Establishing scientific research centers.
  • Setting up joint ventures.
  • Unified military presence (Peninsula Shield Force).
  • Encouraging cooperation of the private sector.
  • Strengthening ties between their peoples.
  • And establishing a common currency by 2010.[13][14][15][16]
However, Oman announced in December 2006 it would not be able to meet the target date. Following the announcement that the central bank for the monetary union would be located in Riyadh and not in the UAE, the UAE announced their withdrawal from the monetary union project in May 2009. The name Khaleeji has been proposed as a name for this currency. If realised, the GCC monetary union would be the second largest supranational monetary union in the world, measured by GDP of the common-currency area.[14]

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.

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.

Recovery plans have been criticized for crowding out the private sector, failing to set clear priorities for growth, failing to restore weak consumer and investor confidence, and undermining long-term stability.[17]


The logo of the GCC consists of two concentric circles. On the upper part of the larger circle, the Bismillah phrase is written in Arabic and on the lower part the Council's full name, in Arabic. The inner circle contains an embossed hexagonal shape representing the Council's six member countries. The inside of the hexagon is filled by a map encompassing the Arabian Peninsula, on which the areas of the member countries are shown in brown.


Patent Office[edit]

Main article: GCC Patent Office

The GCC Patent Office was approved in 1992 and established soon after in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[18] Applications are filed and prosecuted in the Arabic language before the GCC Patent Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which is a separate office from the Saudi Arabian Patent Office.

Common market[edit]

A GCC common market was launched on 1 January 2008.[19] The common market grants national treatment to all GCC firms and citizens in any other GCC country, and in doing so removes all barriers to cross-country investment and services trade. A customs union was declared in 2003, but practical implementation has lagged behind. Indeed, shortly afterwards, Bahrain concluded a separate Free Trade Agreement with the United States, in effect cutting through the GCC's agreement, and causing much friction.

Monetary Council[edit]

On 15 December 2009, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia announced the creation of a Monetary Council, a step toward establishing a shared currency. The board of the council, which will set a timetable for establishing a joint central bank and choose a currency regime, will meet for the first time on 30 March 2010. Kuwaiti foreign minister Mohammad Sabah Al-Sabah said on 8 December 2009 that a single currency may take up to ten years to establish. The original target was in 2010. Oman and the UAE later announced their withdrawal of the proposed currency until further notice.

Peninsula Shield Force[edit]

Amidst the Bahraini uprising, Saudi Arabia and the UAE sent ground troops to Bahrain in order to quell Bahraini protests.[20][21][22] Kuwait and Oman refrained from sending troops.[4] Instead, Kuwait sent a navy unit.[23]

In September 2014 GCC members Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar plus pending member Jordan, commenced air operations against ISIL in Syria cooperation with the United States. They also pledged other support including operating training facilities for Syrian Rebels (Saudi Arabia) and allowing the use of their airbases by other countries fighting ISIL.


Tenure Name Country
26 May 1981 – April 1993 Abdullah Bishara[24] Kuwait
April 1993 – April 1996 Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi[25] United Arab Emirates
April 1996 – 31 March 2002 Jamil Ibrahim Hejailan[26] Saudi Arabia
1 April 2002 – 31 March 2011 Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah[27] Qatar
1 April 2011 – present Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani Bahrain

Member states[edit]

There are six member states of the union:

Flag Common name Official name Type of government
in English in romanized Arabic
Bahrain Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn Constitutional monarchy
Kuwait Kuwait State of Kuwait Dawlat al-Kuwayt Parliamentary system, Constitutional monarchy
Oman Oman Sultanate of Oman Salṭanat ʻUmān Absolute monarchy
Qatar Qatar State of Qatar Dawlat Qaṭar Constitutional monarchy
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Al-Mamlaka al-ʻArabiyya as-Suʻūdiyya Absolute monarchy
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Al-Imārāt al-‘Arabīyah al-Muttaḥidah Federal monarchya
a Elective by monarchs de jure, hereditary de facto.

Macro-economic trend[edit]

GDP per capita
(as % of USA's GDP per capita)
1980 $250,675 152.00
1985 $183,069 60.19
1990 $207,735 41.28
1995 $261,072 37.10
2000 $375,483 36.26
2005 $664,582 45.19
2010 $1,084,647 56.56

2014 Saudi–Qatari Rift[edit]

Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood across the MENA area, Hamas and extremist Islamists in Libya have led to increasing tensions with other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[28][29][30] These came to a head during a March 2014 meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, after which the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced the recall of their ambassadors to Qatar.[31][32][33]

Some financial economists have interpreted the 2014 Saudi–Qatari rift as the tangible political sign of a growing economic rivalry between oil and natural gas producers, which could "have deep and long-lasting consequences" beyond the MENA area.[34]

Related states[edit]

Since the creation of the council in 1981 its membership has not expanded, with all members being Arab monarchies.[35]

Some GCC countries have land borders with Iraq, Jordan and Yemen, and sea borders with Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Pakistan and India.


Iraq is the only Arab country bordering the Persian Gulf that is not a member of the council. The associate membership of Iraq was discontinued in 1990 after its invasion of Kuwait in the Gulf War.[36][37] In 2009, it was reported that Iraq was set to join the cartel of the GCC Chambers of Commerce.[38]

In 2012, Iraqi Defence Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi stated that Iraq wants to join the GCC.[39] Kuwait supports Iraq joining the GCC.[40]


At the December 2012 Manama summit, the GCC states called for an end to Iranian interference in their internal affairs.[41]

Jordan and Morocco[edit]

In May 2011, Jordan's request to join the GCC, which had been first submitted 15 years earlier, was accepted and Morocco was invited to join the union.[42][43][44] In September 2011 a five year economic plan for both countries was put forward after a meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries and those of the GCC States, the first GCC meeting since May which included the Jordanian and Moroccan ministers. Although a plan for accession was being looked into, it was noted that there was no timetable for either's accession, and that discussions would continue.[35]

As Jordan and Morocco are the only two Arab monarchies not currently in the council, the current members see them as strong potential allies. Jordan borders member Saudi Arabia and is economically connected to the Persian Gulf States. Although Morocco is not near the Persian Gulf, the Moroccan foreign minister Taieb Fassi Fihri notes that "geographical distance is no obstacle to a strong relationship".[35]


Yemen is (currently) in negotiations for GCC membership, and hopes to join by 2015. Although it has no coastline on the Persian Gulf, Yemen lies in the Arabian Peninsula and shares a common culture and history with other members of the GCC.[8] The GCC has already approved Yemen's accession to the GCC Standardization Authority, Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC),[45] GCC Auditing and Accounting Authority, Gulf Radio and TV Authority, GCC Council of Health Ministers, GCC Education and Training Bureau, GCC Council of Labour and Social Affairs Ministers, and Gulf Cup Football Tournament. The Council issued directives that all the necessary legal measures be taken so that Yemen would have the same rights and obligations of GCC member states in those institutions.[46]

Related organizations[edit]

The GCC members and Yemen are also members of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA). However, this is unlikely to affect the agenda of the GCC significantly as it has a more aggressive timetable than GAFTA and is seeking greater integration.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kuwait hopes emir visit to Iran will boost Gulf peace". Gulf News. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Sara Hamdan (4 January 2012). "A Call for Private Investment in Gulf Health Care". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2013. The council, an economic and political union of Arab countries, is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 
  3. ^ "U.A.E. Quits Gulf Monetary Union". Wall Street Journal. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2013. The move represents a rare public rift between members of the GCC, an economic and political union aimed at fostering better ties between the oil-rich Arab states straddling the Persian Gulf. 
  4. ^ a b c d GCC Members Consider Future of Union
  5. ^ "Saudi Arabia Seeks Union of Monarchies in Region." The New York Times, 14 May 2012.
  6. ^ Ian Black (14 May 2012). "Gulf unity plan on hold amid Iranian warning". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Asma Alsharif (10 May 2011). "1-Gulf bloc to consider Jordan, Morocco membership". Reuters. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Yemen to join GCC by 2015
  9. ^ "Gulf Union on agenda at annual GCC summit". (Al Arabiya News). 10 December 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Gulf Union 'crucial for stability'". (Gulf Daily News). 12 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Gulf Cooperation Council". Deutsch Federal Foreign Office. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Bandar Salman Al Saud (1997). "The GCC security convention". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Khan, Mohsin S. (April 2009). The GCC Monetary Union: Choice of Exchange Rate Regime (PDF). Washington DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  14. ^ a b Sturm, Michael; Siegfried, Nikolaus (June 2005). Regional Monetary Integration in the Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (PDF). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: European Central Bank. ISSN 1725-6534. Occasional Paper Series, No. 31. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  15. ^ Abed, George T.; Erbas, S. Nuri; Guerami, Behrouz (1 April 2003). The GCC Monetary Union: Some Considerations for the Exchange Rate Regime (PDF). Washington DC, USA: International Monetary Fund (IMF). ISSN 1934-7073. Working Paper No. 03/66. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  16. ^ Gulf Currency
  17. ^ Ibrahim Saif; Farah Choucair (14 May 2009). "Arab Countries Stumble in the Face of Growing Economic Crisis". Carnegie Endowment. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  18. ^ "GCC Patent Office page of the GCC website". Retrieved 12 February 2008. [dead link]
  19. ^ GCC states to launch joint market today Arab Times
  20. ^ "(ABC News Australia)". ABC News. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  21. ^ Bahrain protests CNN. 2011
  22. ^ Gulf forces intervene in Bahrain after violent clashes Daily India.
  23. ^ "Kuwait naval units join Bahrain mission ... ‘Plot foiled’". Arab Times. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "Bishara, Abdullah". Rulers. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Profile". ECSSR. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  26. ^ Malcolm C. Peck (12 April 2010). The A to Z of the Gulf Arab States. Scarecrow Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-8108-7636-1. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  27. ^ Toumi, Habib (29 November 2009). "Oman endorses Al Mutawa". Gulf News. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  28. ^ David Blair and Richard Spencer (20 September 2014). "How Qatar is funding the rise of Islamist extremists". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "Hamas's BFFs". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "3 Gulf Countries Pull Ambassadors From Qatar Over Its Support of Islamists". New York Times. 5 March 2014. 
  32. ^ " "UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain recall their ambassadors from Qatar" 5 Mar 2014". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  33. ^ "Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain withdraw envoys from Qatar". CNN. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  34. ^ Firzli, M. Nicolas J. (6 April 2014). "A GCC House Divided: Country Risk Implications of the Saudi-Qatari Rift". Al-Hayat (London). Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  35. ^ a b c Yahoo! "GCC discusses economic plan for Jordan, Morocco". 11 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  36. ^ Low, Linda; Carlos Salazar, Lorraine (2011). The Gulf Cooperation Council: A Rising Power and Lessons for ASEAN. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 41. ISBN 9789814311403. Retrieved 28 June 2013. Iraq was once an associate member, but this was suspended when it invaded Kuwait 
  37. ^ Wuthnow, Joel (6 June 2013). "China and the Iran Nuclear Issue: Beyond the Limited Partnership". United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. 
  38. ^ Iraq to join GCC trade federation
  39. ^ Dulaimi confirmed that Iraq sought to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
  40. ^ "Kuwait stresses necessity for Iraq to join GCC". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  41. ^ "GCC states slam Iran interference in region." Al Jazeera. 25 December 2012.
  42. ^ Jordan, Morocco to join [P]GCC
  43. ^ Mu Xuequan (11 May 2011). "GCC welcomes Jordan's request to join the council". Xinhua. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  44. ^ Al-Rantawi, Oraib (17 July 2011). "GCC membership may be a burden on Jordan’s security". Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  45. ^ "Yemen joined GOIC in 2009". Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  46. ^ See the Closing Statement of the Twenty-Second Session GCC the Final Communiqué of the 29th Session

External links[edit]