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Revisiting the Basics


International Org. | Part 8 | Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional political organisation comprising the energy rich Gulf monarchies – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

source: middleeasteye


When and why was it founded?

  • Establishment in Abu Dhabi in 1981 | HQ in Riyadh
  • The founding charter focused more on issues of social and cultural cohesion, environmental and scientific coordination and economic cooperation
  • Recently, Morocco and Jordan have applied for the GCC membership which is currently being studied by the GCC Expert Committee

India and GCC: Contours of cooperation

  • The Gulf constitutes the “immediate” neighborhood of India separated only by the Arabian Sea
  • The Gulf, as the principal source of India’s energy requirements, is central to our energy security interests: it meets 75% of our oil needs at present; as our demand increases in coming years, India’s dependence will go up to 90% by 2035.
  • GCC is India’s largest trading partner as an economic grouping, with two-way trade being more than our ties with the European Union, ASEAN and North America
  • Four GCC countries figure in India’s top 10 trade partners.
  • We also have an eight-million strong community in the GCC that remits annually $35 billion to the national exchequer
  • The India-GCC Free Trade Agreement which is in under negotiation could usher in a new era of trade


Although India and the GCC countries share a strong economic relationship, there is much progress to be achieved on the political front. Let’s have a close look at some of the important dimensions –

#1. Defence Diplomacy

India’s defence diplomacy with countries of the GCC is well reputed.

  • India has signed a military protocol with Oman which has facilitated joint military exercises
  • India has also signed a defence cooperation agreement with the UAE
  • Our new naval diplomacy document increases our focus on west asian countries. Click to read more about it here.

#2. Counter Terrorism

The meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in neighbouring countries like Iraq and Syria pose a huge threat to the peace and stability of the GCC countries.

#3. Maritime Security

Primary maritime security threats include piracy at sea, smuggling of narcotics and arms and the imminent threat of maritime terrorism.

  • These threats pose major challenges to the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) that India depends heavily on to carry out trade by sea
  • India’s international trade by sea amounts to about 90% of the foreign trade, and it takes place through 13 major ports and several minor ports
  • In recent times the term “Indo Pacific era” has gained currency. You would do well to read this post on – Indian maritime challenges and its diplomatic dimensions

#4. Culture & Diaspora

  • We have an eight-million strong community in the GCC that remits annually $35 billion to the national exchequer
  • Minor concerns – If you remember, in 2013 Saudi Arabia issues a Nitaqat Law – The ‘Nitaqat’ law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers
  • There had been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.
  • India had back then proactively conveyed concerns to the Saudi government


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