GCC aid promises remain on paper

03 October 2011

The financial package will help placate protests in the region, but meaningful reform is real answer

The $10bn financial aid package promised to Oman by the GCC has not yet arrived. Bahrain, which was also promised $10bn, also has yet to receive anything.

During the height of the regional unrest in March, increased spending was seen as one of the main ways to placate the young protesters, who were threatening the stability of these two countries. Now that the demonstrations have subsided, the urgency of these aid packages has also waned.

According to Oman’s finance minister, the authorities are still working on the details and the $10bn is expected to come through early next year. Muscat hopes to use the money to help stimulate the economy and create jobs for its young people.

Overall about $40bn in aid has been promised to the countries affected by the Arab uprisings, but only a fraction of this has come through. Tunisia and Egypt have each received some of this amount, but Oman and Bahrain are still waiting.

How quickly the rest of the money will arrive is unknown. As economies worsen and financial markets continue to lose millions daily, the sooner this aid arrives the better for the entire region. According to the Cairo-based Arab League, the Middle East needs to create 5 million new jobs every year.

Pumping money into these countries may help to appease citizens in the short term, but without real change, the risk of uprisings will remain. Clashes between the police and Shia protesters on 4 October in Saudi Arabia highlight that without real reform, the potential for unrest will continue to threaten the region’s leaders.

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