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What Is the Gulf Cooperation Council?

The flag of Saudi Arabia, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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The Gulf Cooperation Council, officially known as the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG), is an economic and political union of Arab countries located next to the Persian Gulf, in Southeast Asia. The council was established in 1981, when the leaders of six Arab states met in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council is at Riyadh, which is the capital and biggest city in Saudi Arabia, one of the member states.

The six countries that founded the Gulf Cooperation Council are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. The rulers of these states met in Abu Dhabi on 25 May 1981, drawn together by the desire to create a cooperative framework and nurture unity in the Arab world. The six states believed that they were intrinsically linked by history, religion and culture to make such a union possible. Formed primarily as a trade bloc, the Gulf Cooperation Council became official when its unified economic agreement was signed on 11 November 1981.

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The objectives of the Gulf Cooperation Council are in its charter, which seeks to coordinate, integrate and interconnect the CCASG member states in all economic, financial, political, social, cultural, military, scientific and technological aspects. Some of the more specific objectives include the establishment of scientific research centers and setting up regulations and standards for certain industries such as trade, finance and tourism. The Gulf Cooperation Council also aims to establish a common currency between the member states, similar to the European Union’s Euro. As of May 2011, the proposed common legal tender is called the Khaleeji. If adopted, Khaleeji would be the currency of Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with the United Arab Emirates and Oman preferring to wait until after further observation.

The Supreme Council, which is formed out of the leaders of the member states, holds the highest authority of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This body is charged with, among other duties, appointing the secretary-general and creating a commission for settling disputes. Five citizens from each CCASG state to serve three-year terms comprise the Consultative Commission, which studies matters that the Supreme Council refers to it. Also included in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s organizational structure is the Ministerial Council, which consists of either the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the member states or ministers from other departments acting on their behalf.

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