The Gulf Cooperation Council was formed in 1981 with six member countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. At its formation, the founding charter of the GCC was to effectively realize economic and social integration among its members. To accelerate such efforts, several deals were signed.
An economic agreement (December 2001) brought a renewed focus on trade, investment, and various other economic issues. A customs union agreement (2003) aimed to remove restrictions on internal trade and establish common external tariffs. A common market status agreement (2008) aimed to create a single environment where citizens of member countries would enjoy equal rights and privileges. The establishment of a single currency, planned for 2010, has been postponed.
For many people in the Gulf, a more effective and united GCC provides, above all, greater economic opportunities. Promoting the role of women in political and economic development is very important.
GCC states also have to deal with the sectarian Sunni-Shiite conflict, which is causing civil unrest and problems in neighboring countries. Terrorism also remains a major security concern. GCC countries fear that the turbulence in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq may allow al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups to entrench themselves in territories now beyond government control. These concerns can only be confronted at the regional level, and need a high degree of collective coordination.
The use of expatriate workers over the last several decades has helped the region to quickly develop an advanced infrastructure, but it has led to an underdevelopment of local human capital.
Integration will also improve qualifications and work experience in the Gulf. The use of expatriate workers over the last several decades has helped the region to quickly develop an advanced infrastructure, but it has led to an underdevelopment of local human capital.