The World Bank has been a strong partner to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for over 40 years. Governments in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have mobilized the Bank’s global knowledge and development experience through technical assistance programs over the years. The World Bank offers these programs on reimbursable advisory services (RAS) upon government demand.

Activities in the Gulf encompass key areas in which the World Bank has expertise. Currently, the largest programs cover: economic management, financial sector reforms, private sector development, governance, transport, social protection and labor, and education.

The RAS portfolio in the GCC reflects the priorities of the Middle East and North Africa region strategy. Renewing the social contract in the Gulf includes moving away from capture and privileges, reducing the fiscal burden of energy subsidies and enhancing service delivery for infrastructure and social services.  The Bank’s agenda in the GCC focuses on boosting the existing regional cooperation among the Gulf countries by facilitating energy trade, strengthening transport corridors, and integrating broad network infrastructure to promote inclusive growth. The Gulf has been instrumental in the recovery and reconstruction efforts for the region, which include partnerships with the Arab Development Fund and other unilateral foreign assistance funds such as the Kuwait Fund, Abu Dhabi Fund to leverage the financial support extended by the GCC countries to the Arab World.

The Bank also works with the GCC Secretariat General to address crosscutting issues particularly in transport, environment and regional integration across the six countries. Partnerships with GCC- affiliated institutions and bodies continue to flourish. The World Bank signed recently a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gulf Monetary Council (GMCO) for technical cooperation.

Supporting development efforts in the GCC has contributed to the Bank’s global experience in addressing development challenges in high and middle-income countries to deliver global public goods.
As of September 2016, the GCC program volume was over US$32 million. As the name implies, client countries cover all actual expenses of these Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS).

The GCC Department is managed through three offices: a regional office in Riyadh headed by a Country Director, a country office in Kuwait, and a program unit at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2016


The Bank has been supporting the development of the Kingdom Energy Efficiency Program which aims to reduce electricity consumption by focusing on demand-side efficiency for buildings and industrial sectors. The national program, in line with Bahrain’s 2030 Economic Vision, has an overall target of 20% reduction in electricity consumption by 2030. Bahrain is a pioneer in the GCC region in introducing a national energy efficiency strategy with specific targets. With the Bank’s support, the Supreme Health Council (SHC) is implementing sectoral reforms to ensure that insurance mechanisms are efficient in delivering services.  


The key World Bank programs in Kuwait cover the areas of comprehensive general education reform, SME development and land management modernization. A five-year strategic partnership between the Bank and the Ministry of Education is supporting educational reforms in the areas of curriculum reform, teaching effectiveness, effective school environments, standard and testing and national education policy. The program is in its third year and deep into implementation – and has already rolled-out new and competence-based curricula for grades 1, 2 and 6. With the National Fund for SME Development, the Bank is supporting the implementation of significant institutional reforms toward SME development and a stronger eco-system for entrepreneurship in the country.  Over the past year, the Bank has collaborated with the government to launch a nation-wide effort to modernize the current system for managing land and state property. The goal is to promote greater access to land by critical sectors of the Kuwaiti society and economy including housing, real estate, transport, and industry.  


Bank support  in the areas of Budget System Modernization, preparation of the 2016-2020 9th Development Plan, and private sector development activities contributed to the production of an Investment Climate Assessment, a diversification report, a modification of the foreign investment laws, and modernizing the fisheries sector. With the help of the Bank, the government has transformed the management of fisheries to boost sustainable livelihoods and prosperity of the fishing communities. Bank engagements with the country have moved from specific support to an emphasis on knowledge transfer, institutional development, and capacity building in all engagements.


The World Bank is supporting the Qatar Central Bank develop a roadmap for National Payments System modernization, to support the safety, reliability and efficiency of the financial sector in Qatar.
Support to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics is underway, leading to preparation of the next National Development Strategy (2017-2022). The Bank’s wide-ranging development expertise will help the government in conducting a comprehensive analysis and supporting key government agencies in this endeavor.

Saudi Arabia:  

A Bank assessment concluded that the wheat production industry was consuming water inefficiently. This has led the government to stop its local wheat production saving the Kingdom water and financial resources. Bank support to the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) in the areas of animal feed, good manufacturing practices, and medical devices regulation, resulted in the automation of the licensing processes and an improvement in inspection practices for SFDA. The World Bank continues to advise the Saudi government in several areas including public financial management, business climate, foreign direct investment, SME strategy, employment policy including labor and education. The Bank has also provided advice and support to the implementation of the national transport strategy and helped on the creation of the Public Transport Authority.


The World Bank is supporting the Ministry of Finance in enhancing the legal framework governing the management of public resources. This Public Financial Management Legislation RAS is in line with recognized good international practice and adapted to the UAE public sector context. In 2015, the Bank became a Strategic Partner to the Prime Minister Office at the UAE Government Summit. Cooperation will continue focused on service delivery enhancement.

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2016


Gulf Cooperation Council : Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments