Arab states of the Persian Gulf

The Arab states of the Persian Gulf or the Arab Gulf states (Arabic: دول الخليج العربي)[1] refers to a group of Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf. There are seven member states of the Arab League in the region: Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[2][3][4] Yemen is bound to the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, based on history and culture.[5]

  The seven Arab states of the Persian Gulf

The term has been used in different contexts to refer to a number of Arab states in the Gulf region. The prominent regional political union Gulf Cooperation Council includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[6][7][8] In modern history, various British Empire protectorates,[9][10][11] including the Trucial States were Arab states along the Gulf.[12][13][14]


Some of the Arab gulf states are constitutional monarchies with elected parliaments. Bahrain (Majlis al Watani) and Kuwait (Majlis al Ummah) have legislatures with members elected by the population.[15]

The Sultanate of Oman also has an advisory council (Majlis ash-Shura) that is popularly elected.[16] In the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven monarchical emirates, the Federal National Council, functions only as an advisory body, but some of its members are now chosen via a limited electoral college nominated by the seven rulers.[citation needed]

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains a hereditary monarchy with limited political representation. In Qatar, an elected national parliament has been mooted and is written into the new constitution, but elections are yet to be held.[17] Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the two Arab states and absolute monarchies to have never held elections since their respective establishments as nations in 1932 and 1971 respectively.[18] Iraq is the only federal republic situated in the Persian Gulf.

Freedom of the press

Mass media in the seven Arab gulf states have varying degrees of freedom, with Kuwait topping the league with a lively press that enjoys considerably more freedom than its gulf counterparts according to Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders.[citation needed] Both organizations rank Kuwait's press as the freest of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Kuwait ranks amongst the top three for free press in the Arab world.[19][20] Qatar and Oman come in second and third respectively within the regional ranks of the Arab gulf states.[citation needed]


The seven Arab gulf states lie in a volatile region and their seven governments, with varying degrees of success and effort, try and advance peace in their own countries and other countries. However, Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region—specifically Qatar—stand accused of funding militant Islamist organizations, such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.[21] According to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)'s Global Peace Index of 2016, the six governments had varying degrees of success in maintaining peace amongst their respective borders with Qatar ranked number 1 amongst its regional peers as the most peaceful regional and Middle Eastern nation (and ranked 34 worldwide), while Kuwait ranks second both in the Persian Gulf and Middle East regions (and 51 worldwide), followed by the UAE in the third spot (61 worldwide).[22]


Most of these Arab states have significant revenues from petroleum. The United Arab Emirates has been successfully diversifying its economy. 79% of UAE's total GDP comes from non-oil sectors.[23] Oil accounts for only 2% of Dubai's GDP.[24] Bahrain has the Persian Gulf's first "post-oil" economy because the Bahraini economy does not rely on oil.[25]

Since the late 20th century, Bahrain has heavily invested in the banking and tourism sectors.[26] The country's capital, Manama, is home to many large financial structures. The UAE and Bahrain have a high Human Development Index (ranking 31 and 42 worldwide respectively in 2019) and was recognised by the World Bank as high income economies. According to the World Bank, most of these Arab states have been the world's most generous donors of aid as a share of GDP.[27]

The persistent instability in the Middle East, particularly the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, poses a considerable threat to the Gulf Cooperation Council states' economic ambitions. Regional stability is paramount for these nations to achieve their goals, as it directly impacts the investment climate and their capacity to engage in global trade and tourism.[28]

The Gulf states' economic and political strategies are thus characterized by a dual focus on internal diversification and external stabilization. By investing in new economic sectors and pursuing diplomatic avenues for conflict resolution, these states aim to secure their futures in a post-oil era while navigating the complex dynamics of Middle Eastern politics. This strategic approach underscores the intricate link between regional stability and economic prosperity in the Gulf, highlighting the importance of continued efforts towards peace and cooperation in the Middle East.

See also


  1. ^ Riad, Mohamed (1986). "Geopolitics and Politics in the Arab Gulf States (GCC)". GeoJournal. 13 (3): 201–210. doi:10.1007/BF00704811. ISSN 0343-2521. JSTOR 41143719.
  2. ^ Mary Ann Tétreault; Gwenn Okruhlik; Andrzej Kapiszewski (2011). Political Change in the Arab Gulf States: Stuck in Transition. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2013-08-25. The authors first focus on the politics of seven Gulf states: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
  3. ^ World Migration 2005 Costs and Benefits of International Migration. International Organization for Migration. 2005. p. 53. ISBN 9788171885503. Archived from the original on 2023-04-25. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  4. ^ "U.S. Official to Tour Persian Gulf Arab Lands". The New York Times. 1987. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2017-02-05. A leading American diplomat will start a trip to Iraq and six other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region this week to discuss the Iran-Iraq war, Administration officials said today.
  5. ^ "A History of Missed Opportunities: Yemen and the GCC". Carnegie Middle East Center. Archived from the original on 2018-10-12. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  6. ^ Hertog, Steffen (2014). Arab Gulf States : an assessment of nationalisation policies. Archived from the original on 18 October 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  7. ^ Peterson, J. E. (2009). Life after Oil: Economic Alternatives for the Arab Gulf States. Duke University Press. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  8. ^ "Gulf countries". European Commission. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021. The Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – are important markets for EU agricultural exports.
  9. ^ Onley, James (2009). "Britain and the Gulf Shaikhdoms, 1820–1971: The Politics of Protection". CIRS Occasional Papers. Retrieved 16 May 2021.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Watt, D. C. (1964). "Britain and the Future of the Persian Gulf States". The World Today. 20 (11). Royal Institute of International Affairs: 488–496. JSTOR 40393560. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  11. ^ Albaharna, Husain (April 1969). "The Legal Status of the Arabian Gulf States. A Study of their Treaty Relations and their International Problems". International & Comparative Law Quarterly. 18 (2). Manchester University Press: 518–519. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  12. ^ Bey, Frauke (1996). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates. UK: Longman. pp. 296–297. ISBN 978-0-582-27728-1.
  13. ^ Balfour-Paul, G., The End of Empire in the Middle East: Britain's Relinquishment of Power in her Last Three Arab Dependencies, Cambridge University Press, 1984, ISBN 978-0-521-46636-3
  14. ^ Barnwell, Kristi Nichole (2011). "From trucial states to nation state : decolonization and the formation of the United Arab Emirates, 1952–1971". The University of Texas at Austin. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021. Retrieved 16 May 2021. For the rulers of the Arab emirates of the Persian Gulf, Wilson's announcement signaled an end of British military protection, and the beginning of a process of negotiations that culminated in the establishment of the United Arab Emirates on December 3, 1971. An examination of the process by which the individual Persian Gulf states became a sovereign federation presents an opportunity to examine the roles of nationalism and anti-imperialism played in the establishment of the Union.
  15. ^ Diamond, Larry; Plattner, Marc F. (2014-04-17). Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World. JHU Press. ISBN 9781421414171. Archived from the original on 2023-04-25. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  16. ^ Diamond, Larry; Plattner, Marc F. (2014-04-17). Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World. JHU Press. ISBN 9781421414171. Archived from the original on 2023-04-25. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  17. ^ Gerd Nonneman, "Political Reform in the Gulf Monarchies: From Liberalisation to Democratisation? A Comparative Perspective", in Anoushiravan Ehteshami and Steven Wright (eds.)(2007), Reform in the Middle East Oil Monarchies, ISBN 978-0-86372-323-0, pp. 3–45.
  18. ^ Robbers, Gerhard (2007). Encyclopedia of world constitutions, Volume 1. p. 791. ISBN 978-0-8160-6078-8.
  19. ^ "Freedom of the Press 2016". April 26, 2016. Archived from the original on September 8, 2019. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  20. ^ "2016 World Press Freedom Index". Archived from the original on 2017-02-14.
  21. ^ "Four huge Middle Eastern powers just cut ties with Qatar over 'terrorism' links". The Independent. June 5, 2017. Archived from the original on February 6, 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  22. ^ "Global Peace Index 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-15.
  23. ^ "Diversification raises non-oil share of UAE's GDP to 71%". 18 April 2011. Archived from the original on 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  24. ^ "Oil Makes Up 2% of Dubai GDP Post-Diversification – Gulf Jobs News". Archived from the original on 2021-05-09. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  25. ^ "Bahrain: Reform-Promise and Reality" (PDF). J.E. Peterson. p. 157. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  26. ^ "Bahrain's economy praised for diversity and sustainability". Bahrain Economic Development Board. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  27. ^ "The haves and the have-nots". The Economist. 11 July 2013. Archived from the original on 26 August 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  28. ^ "The conflict in the Middle East puts Gulf states at risk". 2023-11-09. Retrieved 2024-04-03.

Further reading