The inaugural GCC Summit in 1981 was hosted by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

1981 (Abu Dhabi, May 25-26) The inaugural GCC Summit hosted by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan saw the birth of the GCC as a regional entity that aimed at enhancing cooperation and strengthening ties among the member states. The leaders set economic integration and social cohesion as their ultimate goals. The Abu Dhabi Declaration, maintained that the creation of the Council was dictated by historical, social, cultural, economic, political and strategic imperatives.

1981 (Riyadh, November 10-11) The leaders adopted the Unified Economic Pact, which aimed at removing barriers among member states and gearing all resources for the well being and prosperity of the GCC people.

1982 (Manama, November 9-11) The draft economic agreement lifting trade, travel and customs barriers among the GCC nations reviewed the progress made on common defence and security pacts. They reached an agreement on a $2.1-billion (Dh7.7 billion) fund, which will be based in Kuwait and called the Gulf Investment Corporation.

1983 (Doha, November 7-9) Leaders reviewed a situation of unprecedented crisis in the Arab world, following the outbreak of bitter fighting around Tripoli between PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s followers and factions opposed to him.

1985 (Oman, November 3-5) The leaders approved strategies and common policies covering agriculture, industrial development, environment protection and education.

1986 (Abu Dhabi, November 2-4) The bloc agreed on allowing GCC citizens to do business in the member states, providing them with access to loans from banks and industrial development funds.

1987 (Riyadh, December 26-29) The leaders approved a security strategy and sanctioned the defence ministers’ recommendations on military cooperation. They agreed to set up a GCC Common Market, by standardising customs tariffs.

1988 (Manama, December 19-21) The leaders approved of GCC citizens acquiring shares in joint stock firms.

1989 (Muscat, December 18-20) The six heads of state covered the possible future adoption of a unified tariff system, regarded by many as fundamental in the GCC’s negotiations for a trade pact with the European Economic Community.

1990 (Qatar, December 22-24) Summit overshadowed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

1991 (Kuwait, December 23-25) The summit in Kuwait was the first to be held since the liberation of the nation. The GCC countries have signed defence pacts among themselves, carried out joint military exercises and created a GCC force of up to 15,000 men. The summit reiterated their support for the Damascus Agreement, which provides for military cooperation among the GCC, Egypt and Syria.

1992 (Abu Dhabi, December 21-23) The summit confirmed its full backing of the UAE in its pursuance through peaceful means of regaining sovereignty over its islands of Abu Mousa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs occupied by Iran. Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi was appointed Secretary General in succession to Abdullah Yaqoub Bishara.

1993 (Riyadh, December 20-22) The GCC leaders discussed plans to integrate their air defences and set up a joint early warning system.

1994 (Manama, December 19-21) The Summit called for practical measures to be adopted towards standardising corporate laws.

1995 (Muscat, December 4-6) The leaders approved recommendations for establishing a GCC power grid and recommendations for streamlining banking activities. Jameel Al Hujailan was named GCC Secretary General succeeding Shaikh Fahim.

1996 (Doha, December 7-9) The leaders condemned Iran’s aggression as a flagrant violation of the UAE’s territorial integrity that jeopardised the region’s security.

1997 (Kuwait, December 20-22) The Council announced steps to boost their joint defensive capabilities by approving plans for new radar and communications links.

1998 (Abu Dhabi, December 7-9) The leaders approved the formation of an advisory bureau for the supreme council. The council has granted freedom of movement within the GCC countries to their citizens and has issued a number of resolutions to facilitate the flow of trade and commodities.

1999 (Riyadh, November 27-29) The heads of state reached a deal to unify their customs tariffs in March 2005, resolving a last-minute dispute that threatened their 18-year-old ambition to create a regional trading bloc. The higher council approved the customs tariffs and the implementation of the customs union from March 2005.

2000 (Manama, December 30-31) Joint defence agreement among the GCC countries signed. The leaders agreed to allow GCC citizens to practise economic activities and to hold jobs in any member country.

2001 (Muscat, December 30-31) The Council agreed to reduce unified customs tariff to 5 per cent from January 2003. The Council was formally given a target of 2010 for the introduction of a single currency for the six member states. The leaders agreed to Yemen’s membership to the council. Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah appointed as new secretary general succeeding Jameel Al Hujailan.

2002 (Doha, December 21- 22) The leaders approved a document, which contains the petroleum strategy for the GCC states and ratified the Regional Emergency Plan for Petroleum Products of the member states. The Gulf Customs Union becomes reality; under the union, which was to take effect in January 2003, the GCC would become a “single customs zone” in which a unified 5 per cent tariff is applied.

2003 (Kuwait, December 21-22)
The Council reviewed a report on the timeline for the single GCC currency The summit agreed to form a pact to combat terrorism. Expressed their strong condemnation over the attacks on housing complexes in Riyadh, and praised the efforts of Saudi security forces in thwarting terror attacks in Makkah.

2004 (Manama, December 20 – 21) The summit was named the ‘Zayed Summit’, paying tribute to UAE’s president. The leaders also reviewed a report on the smart card project, which would act as a national identity for GCC citizens. The summit reviewed preliminary studies on the feasibility of establishing an intra-GCC railway.

2005 (Abu Dhabi, December 18-19) The meeting was named as the Fahd Summit in recognition of the late King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz’s contributions. The council endorsed a document on standard trade policy, aimed at unifying foreign trade policies for the GCC countries so as to enable them deal with the outside world as a single economic bloc.

2006 (Riyadh, December 9-10) The Council announced that they were considering a shared nuclear programme for peaceful purposes. The leaders commissioned a study by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to set up a common programme in the area of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, according to international standards and systems.

2007 (Doha December 3-4) The council announced the launch of the Gulf Common Market, with effect from January 1, 2008. The leaders came up with a historic decision stating that all GCC nationals will be treated equally in terms of rights to travel, employment and education as well as economic, financial and investment opportunities in all the member countries on a par with the nationals of each country. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also attended the summit proposing a number of joint projects to improve ties with the GCC, including economic and security programmes. The GCC leaders positively viewed and regarded it as signs of goodwill but will further study the proposals.

2008 (Muscat, December 29-30) GCC leaders approved the Monetary Union Agreement (MUA), the first legal document on the formation of the Gulf Monetary Union (GMU) and the ‘Khaliji’, the proposed common currency name, but the question of the location of the Central Bank remained unresolved.

2009 (Kuwait, December 14-15) GCC leaders concluded the summit with an agreement on the monetary union. The monetary union will comprise four of the six GCC members. UAE and Oman opted out of the agreement. Under the pact, a Gulf monetary council is to be established early next year. The summit also supported Saudi Arabia in its fight against Yemen’s Al Houthi group and called on Tehran to respond to the GCC’s repeated calls to solve peacefully the issues of the three UAE islands occupied by Iran.