The GCC countries have benefited enormouslyfrom oil and gas reserves and assets that havegenerated significant financial liquidity in the sixyears between 2001 and 2007. The presentwealth poses an interesting question for thoseinterested in the future of the GCC countries, andone which these scenarios seek to address: Howcan this wealth be put to use to ensure that theGCC countries expand in affluence, whileovercoming the internal and external pressuresthat could shift them from the path of sustainableprosperity?
Key Questions for the Scenarios
From amidst the many drivers identified byproject participants, the scenario processidentified two ‘focal questions’ that have theability to alter the fortunes of the GCC countriesin the next two decades:
Will leaders in the GCC countries bewilling and able to implement thenecessary economic and political reformsand enforce the rule of law, both in publicand in private governance?
How can the GCC countries maintaininternal order and stability, in particularvis-à-vis a complex and uncertainregional situation?
As important as these questions are, morecrucial are the insights that can be gleanedfrom considering what these questions imply.In positing three possible futures which addressthem in different ways, two key themesconsistently emerged as being crucial to thefuture of the GCC countries:
Education and innovation:
The GCCcountries face the challenge that theircollective oil reserves, while vast, will not lastforever. Nor are oil and gas always a reliablesource of wealth; there have been manytimes where GCC budgets were in deficitand public debt rose as a result of fallingenergy prices. However, in attempting todiversify away from oil, the GCC countriesface a major problem in that their existingskill base for workers is low by worldstandards and relatively little research,development and innovation are occurringin the region. This creates an impedimentto development and exacerbates otherproblems associated with importing bothforeign workers and technologies. As aresult, the way in which education policiesare handled by GCC governments will be asignificant determinant of the region’s abilityto develop as innovation-based economiesthat do not wholly rely on natural resources.
Leadership and governance:
The GCCcountries are ruled by traditionally-organizedfamily groups, with varying underlyingexecutive, legislative and judicial models.Leadership and governance will therefore beinstrumental in determining the path that theGCC countries will take over the next 20 years. Although much is being undertaken today interms of reform to improve the efficiency andopenness of these systems, the strategieschosen and the rates of change vary betweenGCC countries. In managing both internalstability and reforms, leadership plays acritical role at all levels of GCC governmentas well as in the private sector.
S e c t i on
S e c t i o n 2 : E x e c u t i v e S u mm a r y
T h e G C C C o u n t r i e s a n d t h e W o r l d : S c e n a r i o s t o 2 0 2 5