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Arab states of the Persian Gulf

Arab states of the Persian Gulf

The Arab states of the Persian Gulf are the seven Arab states which border the Persian Gulf, namely Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).[1][2][3] All of these nations except Iraq are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),[4] and prefer to use the term "Arabian Gulf" rather than the historical name of the Persian Gulf.[5]


Some states are constitutional monarchies with elected parliaments. Bahrain (Majlis al Watani) and Kuwait (Majlis al Ummah) have legislatures with members elected by the population.

The Sultanate of Oman also has an advisory council (Majlis ash-Shura) that is popularly elected. In the UAE, a federation of seven monarchical emirates, the Federal National Council (United Arab Emirates) functions only as an advisory body, but some of its members are now chosen via a limited electoral college nominated by the seven rulers. Saudi Arabia remains a hereditary monarchy with limited political representation. In Qatar, an elected national parliament has been mooted and is written into the new constitution, but elections are yet to be held.[6]


Soap operas are important national pastimes in the Gulf Arab region. They are most popular during the time of Ramadan, when families gather to break their fast. Most of these soap operas are based in Kuwait.[7][8] Kuwaiti soap operas are the most-watched soap operas in the Persian Gulf region.[9][10] Although usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, they have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia.[11] Kuwaiti popular culture, in the form of theatre, radio and television soap opera, flourishes and is exported to neighbouring Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[12][13] Darb El Zalag, Khalti Gmasha, and Ruqayya wa Sabika are among the most important television productions in the Persian Gulf region.[14] Kuwait is widely considered the cultural capital of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf region,[15][16] frequently dubbed the "Hollywood of the Gulf" due to the popularity of its Arabic television soap operas and theatre.[35]

The inhabitants of Eastern Arabia's coast share similar cultures and music styles such as fijiri, sawt and liwa. The most noticeable cultural trait of Eastern Arabia's Arabs is their orientation and focus towards the sea.[36] Maritime-focused life in the small Arab states has resulted in a sea-oriented society where livelihoods have traditionally been earned in marine industries.[36]

Before the GCC was formed in 1981, the term "Khaleeji" was solely used to refer to the inhabitants of Eastern Arabia.[37] Historically, "Khaleeji" meant descendants of Ichthyophagi, the coast-dwelling "fish eaters".[38] Geographically, the Arabic-speaking is solely Eastern Arabia.[39][40]

Freedom of press

Press in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf have varying degrees of freedom with Kuwait topping the league with a lively press that enjoys considerably more freedom than its Persian Gulf counterparts according to Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders. Both organizations rank Kuwait's press as the most free of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf and, in fact, rank amongst the top three most free press in the Arab world.[41][42] Qatar and Oman come in second and third respectively within the regional ranks.


The six Arab states of the Persian Gulf lie in a volatile region and their six governments, with varying degrees of success and effort, try and advance peace in their own countries and other countries. However, Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region - specifically Saudi Arabia and Qatar - stand accused of funding Islamist militants such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.[43] According to the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP)'s Global Peace Index of 2016, the six governments had varying degrees of success in maintaining peace amongst their respective borders with Qatar ranked number 1 amongst its regional peers as the most peaceful regional and Middle Eastern nation (and ranked 34 worldwide) while Kuwait ranks second in both the regional and the Middle East region (and 51 worldwide) followed by the UAE in the third spot (61 worldwide).[44]


All of these Arab states have significant revenues from petroleum. The United Arab Emirates has been successfully diversifying the economy. 79% of UAE's total GDP comes from non-oil sectors.[45] Oil accounts for only 2% of Dubai's GDP.[46] Bahrain has the Persian Gulf's first "post-oil" economy because the Bahraini economy does not rely on oil.[47] Since the late 20th century, Bahrain has heavily invested in the banking and tourism sectors.[48] The country's capital, Manama is home to many large financial structures. Bahrain and Kuwait have a high Human Development Index (worldwide rank of 45 and 48 respectively) and was recognised by the World Bank as high income economies.

In addition, the small coastal states (especially Bahrain and Kuwait) were successful centers of trade and commerce prior to oil. Eastern Arabia also had significant pearl banks, but the pearling industry collapsed in the 1930s after the development of cultured pearl methods by Japanese scientists.

According to the World Bank, most of these Arab states have been the world's most generous donors of aid as a share of GDP.[49]

See also

  • Persian Gulf naming dispute

  • List of Rulers of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf

  • Iran-Arab relations


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