GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

Future Trends in the Gulf


The Gulf monarchies – the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) – are undergoing dramatic change. The last decade has seen rapid growth in their populations, economies and education systems, coupled with deep changes in the flow of information, the make-up of the population and the economic expectations of the younger generation. The Gulf states are increasingly important foreign policy players and investors, which means that a growing range of countries have a direct interest in their wealth and stability.

This report makes a number of recommendations for GCC governments and international allies. Key points are summarized below. In short, it argues that the Gulf countries should seize the opportunity to carry out meaningful reforms towards more constitutional forms of monarchy. Failing that, the various dynamics of change – economic, demographic, social and political – will add to pressures on the states of the Gulf, and increase the risks of future conflict in a region of vital strategic importance to the rest of the world.