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Are You Ready for the New GCC?
The big question in power circles in the region is whether the GCC would allow full membership to Jordan and Morocco or something similar to Yemen’s limited observer status.
June 29, 2011 5:15 by Atique Naqvi
The professor said that it would be an alliance of unequal partners. The combined population of Jordan and Morocco is about 40 million, while the population of the existing GCC countries stood at 38.5 million, according to the United Nations, he said, adding that GCC countries are mostly oil-driven rich economies with a combined GDP of about $1.1 trillion in 2010, as per IMF statistics. The estimated GDP of Morocco was $91.7bn and the figure was $27.1bn for Jordan in 2010. “If we take into account the high unemployment rates in Jordan and Morocco, and for theoretical purposes, do some math if visa- free travel is allowed among the potential eight-member GCC, the results would be economically catastrophic,” he said.
Dr Koch of Gulf Research Centre said, “Jordan and Morocco would enter with an expectation of significant financial transfers to their countries. It would be largely a one-way transfer as the exchange for labor resources from Jordan and Morocco into the GCC states would be negligible. It is difficult to understand the economic rationale in this.”
When Al Zayani made this startling announcement during the 13th consultative summit of the leaders of the GCC, the attendees had tense relations with Iran, a stalled transition plan in Yemen and the popular uprisings shaking the Arab world in mind.
Answering a question about the Iranian threat, the professor said that although Iranian policies are a matter of concern, there was no imminent threat to GCC countries. He also denies that the announcement is a bid to form a Sunni bloc against Shia-majority Iran and its allies in Syria and Lebanon. “If we analyze the political and economic impact of the extension of the GCC, I see a more negative impact on economies of this region rather than political repercussions.”
Dr Koch, as well, does not agree with the theory of Sunni Crescent. He said, “I do not believe so as I do not see this inclusion of Jordan and Morocco to actually happen and because there are still diverse interests at play that will prevent a continuous solid common front from being established. It is simply a reaction to current events on the ground and nothing more.”
In an interview with CNBC, chief economist of HSBC Middle East, Simon Williams, said that besides their political structure, there is not much more that binds the GCC with Jordan and Morocco. “I can see why the Gulf states might seek to improve ties with other monarchies of the region, but actual membership of the GCC strikes me as unlikely.”
This article was originally published in TRENDS.
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