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Siege hurts economic diversification in GCC: BDC Director Tarik Yousef

Siege hurts economic diversification in GCC: BDC Director Tarik Yousef


Tribune News Network
Doha
The Gulf rift, caused by the unfair siege of Qatar by some of its neighbours, has dealt economic diversification attempts in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) a significant blow, Brookings Doha Center (BDC) Director Tarik Yousef has said.
"One of the achievements of the GCC was to bring about economic integration beyond oil and gas and to bring about economic diversification. The blockade has hurt this aim," he said.
Yousef was speaking at a policy discussion on the challenges facing Qatar and other GCC countries in diversifying their economies in an era of demand-driven energy markets.
While these countries understand the importance of diversifying their economies and have taken steps towards diversification, the changes have been slow, he said.
The event discussed how GCC countries could kickstart and accelerate their economic transitions, as well as the economic and geopolitical consequences of abundant global oil supplies on the GCC.
Panellists included Hatem al Shanfari, professor of economics and finance at Sultan Qabus University; Khalid al Khater, researcher at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the University of Cambridge; Nader Kabbani, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center; and Samantha Gross, fellow in the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate at the Brookings Institution. The event was moderated by Tarik Yousef.
Samantha Gross talked about the difficulties of economic diversification in the GCC, saying,"Economic diversification in the Middle East is a real challenge, because the oil and gas industry is so productive, and it throws off so much income that it becomes difficult for other industries to compete with that."
Explaining what the GCC countries have done to meet the goals of diversification, Khalid al Khater said,"We must reform private and public sectors to create an incentive for human capital-building."
Khater focused on the various sectors that need to be addressed, including youth unemployment, public sector employment, migrant workers, labour market, and the pressure this puts on infrastructure and building human capital.
Hatem al Shanfari underlined the need to better manage water and renewable energy sources.

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