The GCC at 40: Prospects for the future

Speakers reflect on the state of the GCC and discuss prospects for future economic and political cohesion.

Research event, Webinar
25 May 2021 — 2:00PM TO 3:00PM

On 25 May 2021 the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) marks the 40th anniversary of the political, economic, and security organisation that brought together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over shared regional security threats.

The founding charter focused on economics, education, and culture, with the aim of achieving ‘coordination, integration, and inter-connection … to achieve unity between them’. Political and security issues were not expressly mentioned in the charter, although subsequent meetings and communiqués reaffirmed these areas of cooperation within the body.

Through the years, the GCC has weathered many a political storm, from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war to the 1990 Gulf war and the 2011 Arab Spring, but the 2014 and 2017 rifts with Qatar have damaged the bloc’s cohesion. Progress on economic integration has also slowed, but the January 2021 signing of the Al Ula agreement ending the three-and-a-half year crisis with Qatar aims to build back trust and collaboration among the members.

The event will be held on the record and livestreamed on the MENA Programme Facebook page.


Bader Al-Saif, Non-resident Fellow, Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Middle East Fellow, Baker Institute, Rice University; Associate Fellow, MENA Programme, Chatham House

Kristin Smith Diwan, Senior Resident Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington

Moderator: Sanam Vakil, Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, MENA Programme, Chatham House

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