There have been three economic transformations of the Arab Gulf. Yet the obstacles today remain eerily similar to those of forty years ago. Oil reserves are finite and nonoil resources in the gulf states—minerals, arable land, skilled population, and even capital for some countries—are scarce. Thus the path to economic diversification is especially difficult. While half of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries enjoy sizable surplus income at present, the other three face immediate requirements for replacing oil income. The various strategies chosen to prepare for a viable economic future differ according to the group, and the task is further complicated by authoritarian regimes and inefficient state planning.

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