Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 04/2009

The Oil Boom in the GCC Countries: Old Challenges, Changing Dynamics

Ibrahim Saif

March 2009

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


The recent oil boom (2002 to mid-2008) generated a large volume of revenues for the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia (SA). Estimated at an annual average of U.S. $327 billion over the period 2002– 2006, the revenues more than doubled their average as compared with the preceding five years.1 The abundant revenues were instrumental in boosting economic growth; and macroeconomic indicators such as growth and investment in the GCC were also robust over the period 2002–2007. On the other hand, other indicators pertinent to the labor market, the structure of the economy, and governance were less positive.