Each Gulf state needs to strengthen its efforts in extending the same facilities to nationals of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries — be it investment, employment, education and property ownership as per the principles agreed to make the Gulf Common Market (GCM) a reality.
The six-member GCC has established the GCC Customs Union in 2003 and the GCM in 2008 as part of its quest to create the GCC Monetary Union. Although progress has been made to create a single European Union-type entity, the GCC countries also have a long way to go in achieving these goals.
In this regard, the latest report by UAE Ministry of Finance outlining the country’s progress in extending facilities to GCC nationals is an eye-opener for its neighbours. Property registration by GCC nationals has jumped 32 per cent last year over the same recorded in 2010 while employment of GCC nationals in the UAE increased 22 per cent. Currently, 212,020 GCC investors are trading in UAE stocks.
The number of business licences granted to GCC nationals grew 10.2 per cent last year to 28,909. The report reflects the UAE’s openness in attracting investment while at the same time offering employment and extending opportunities in real estate investment.
On these lines, the UAE is also promoting ‘Gulf Nationality’ — a policy that extends full rights and facilities to other GCC nationals enjoyed by the nationals of the home country as per the GCM.
The GCC also needs to expand the physical infrastructure to allow greater cross-border mobility that could help trade, tourism and retail sectors. In this regard, the GCC Power Grid and the GCC Railway need to be fast-tracked.
With its progressive and business-friendly environment, the UAE has undoubtedly become the preferred destination for investment and doing business. However, the rest of the GCC countries also need to catch up. Otherwise, the GCM will remain a dream, let alone the single currency and the GCC Monetary Union.