As the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) turned 40 on May 25, 2021, the political, economic, and security organisation that brought together Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is still shaken by years of unprecedented disputes that took the six-member block to the brink. Despite the pledge to renewed cohesion that emerged from the positive Al-Ula Declaration early this year, lingering resentments remain and add to multiple near and long term challenges the GCC will have to cope with, ranging from the dual impact of COVID-19 and lower oil prices to the tense relations with Iran and the consequences of climate change. While the end to the three-and-a-half-year crisis with Qatar intends to build back trust and collaboration among the members, deeper political unity and economic integration are needed if these problems are to be solved. What are the main challenges the organisation will have to confront in the near future? Which are the GCC’s key strenghts and vulnerabilities and how should the Council adapt to new priorities?
Abdullah Baabood, Visiting Professor, Waseda University
Elham Fakhro, Senior Analyst, Gulf States, International Crisis Group
Karen Young, Senior Fellow and Director, Economics and Energy Program, Middle East Institute
Adel Hamaizia, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House