Last updated: 23 December, 2012

GCC ministers discuss economy ahead of summit

Foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states met in Bahrain’s capital on Sunday to discuss economic integration on the eve of the annual GCC summit, a diplomatic source said.

The meeting was held behind closed doors and focused on “the complementary nature of the six members,” whose overall GDP in 2011 amounted to 1.371 trillion dollars, the source said.

The GCC states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia — have a joint population of around 46 million, the majority of whom are foreigners.

In 2003, they launched a symbolic customs union which has been beset with problems, failing to meet its target date of 2005, with the transition period systematically extended.

And a monetary union announced in 2009 with the aim of creating a common currency has also failed to materialise, with just four nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) signing up to it.

The two-day Manama summit, set to begin on Monday afternoon, will also discuss other regional issues including the more than 21-month conflict in Syria, relations with Shiite Iran and the situation in Yemen, sources said.

However, four of the six heads of state will not attend the annual gathering.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is convalescing after a back operation in November, while Qatar is sending its crown prince, the United Arab Emirates its vice president, and Oman its deputy prime minister.

Kuwait will be represented by its emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al-Sabah.