I previously described the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) as the future EU of Arabia. It is certainly the most successful multinational cooperative body outside the EU, and is made up of the six monarchies of the Gulf: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman. 25 May 2011 will mark the 30th anniversary of the organization’s founding.
For years there has been discussion that Yemen, the poorer republic to the south, could become a member state. And after the fall of Saddam, there was further discussion that Iraq could become a member as well. But both these candidate states have always seemed unlikely to me — they are republics that overthrew their monarchs, with larger and significantly poorer populations that make it an uneasy fit with the rest of the GCC.
But there has been much speculation in the news recently that the GCC could expand to include Jordan and Morocco. Jordan has officially submitted an application to become a member, and there is support and guidance for Morocco to submit an application soon.
There has been some criticism in international papers that the new members confirm the GCC as a club of monarchies. This could also increase the likelihood that democratic reformers inspired by Egypt and Tunisia will be subject to a Bahrain-like transnational army stopping protesters. But certainly Jordan stands to reap great economic benefits by tying up with the rich countries of the Gulf.
Endnote: Interestingly, a number of Gulf women fear that the admission of Jordan and Morocco to the GCC will result in the local men looking for wives in the two countries. With all the barriers for women in the Gulf countries to marry foreigners when compared to few restrictions on the men, an estimated 25% of men in the UAE are married to foreigners, causing a serious problem that has brought the spinster rate to as high as 30+%.