The Gulf Cooperation Council

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The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political organization that works to serve the collective interests of its six members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The member nations founded the GCC in 1981, as a way to foster cooperation in economic, scientific, environmental, and social issues.

The GCC has several political bodies. The Supreme Council is the highest decision-making body; the Council meets annually, and each member nation has one representative who has one vote. Presidency of the Council rotates annually. Substantive decisions of the Supreme Council must be unanimous; procedural matters can be approved by a majority. Foreign ministers make up the Ministerial Council, which meets every three months, and make policies and recommendations to the Ministerial Council. The GCC's executive branch, the Secretariat General, implements decisions made by the two Councils. The head of this apparatus is the Secretary-General, who serves a three-year term.

Member nations have pursued collective economic efforts in recent years, forming a common market in 2008 and a monetary council the following year and then a customs union in 2015. A move to incorporate a common currency is ongoing.

Since 1984, the member nations have contributed to a joint fighting force of 40,000 troops known as the Peninsula Shield Force, which is stationed in Saudi Arabia, near its border with Kuwait. That force did not respond when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991 but did act to protect Kuwait once it was liberated. GCC members signed an intelligence-sharing pact in 2004.

Internally, member nations have connected power grids and embarked on plans to connect water systems. Common transportation systems have been an area of focus in recent years, with a nearly 25,000-mile-long rail network due to be completed in 2018.

The GCC also has a Patent Office, established in 1992.

GCC member nations work together to promote sports cooperation and competition. The 2006 Asian Games took place in Doha, Qatar's capital. Qatar has been named the first Middle Eastern host of the Soccer World Cup; this is scheduled for 2022.

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David White