The Gulf states have entered a period of unprecedented uncertainty when the three key pillars underpinning the region’s stability and development appear less dependable than in the past. To overcome these multiple challenges the GCC will need to re-examine the bases of its domestic, regional and global policies. Faced with all these potential extra sources of oil-supply, and the possibility of future cyclical sharp increases and dips in global oil prices, the Gulf states need to create flexibility in their economies which can enable them to withstand price shocks.
Even as the Gulf States contemplate the potential dangers they face from within the region, they have to contemplate how their global alliances have been affected by the crises of recent years. Relations with Washington may have cooled, but the GCC states have few other options. Russia’s policies and military intervention in Syria cut across GCC interests there. Moscow, for now, is not a potential global ally. China, on the other hand, seems to offer a better hope. The current turmoil in the Middle East presents GCC leaders with huge challenges. Far from shying away from these, they have adjusted their domestic and regional strategies accordingly – with the aim of breaking new ground while keeping the traditional fabric of society intact.