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The World Bank Group (WBG) has maintained strong partnerships with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for more than five decades. The WBG has delivered transformational and highly relevant knowledge products to support the development agenda of the region. The governments of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, State of Kuwait, State of Qatar, Sultanate of Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have made use of the global knowledge and development expertise the WBG provides through technical assistance programs offered as Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS). RAS are demand driven and tailored to the specific country context and consist of strategic reform and policy advice, implementation support and capacity building.

The Bank’s RAS portfolio in the GCC reflects the alignment between country priorities and core World Bank strengths building on evidence and international expertise. It is anchored in the WBG’s  twin goals—ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity—and the Bank’s strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Currently, the Bank’s largest programs support long-term economic diversification,  development planning, and the management of sustainable macroeconomic and fiscal policies. The scope of these programs includes reforming the business environment, promoting investment through support to skills development, and fostering a dynamic and entrepreneurial small business sector. Improving human capital is an integral part of WB programs as it provides needed synergy along several sectors including health, education, labor and social protection. These programs are also aligned with GCC country strategies and development plans to address the implications of climate change, social inclusion (particularly regarding gender), urban development and economic management, trade and competitiveness, governance, transport, energy, land management, and digital development. 

Supporting the GCC countries has contributed to scaling up the Bank’s global experience of addressing challenges in high and middle-income countries, producing and customizing development knowledge, and delivering it as global public goods. 

The WBG works with the GCC on promoting the development of private sector institutions. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provides financial support to GCC-based private sector companies interested to expand their operations globally. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) issues guarantees to private sector investors, with a special emphasis on renewable energy and climate related endeavors.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have, over the years, contributed to the financing of the International Development Association (IDA), while Bahrain, despite its own fiscal constraints, became a first-time donor in IDA 19 replenishment. In addition to the generous contributions to IDA, GCC countries have been instrumental in supporting recovery and reconstruction efforts in the MENA region, both on a bilateral and multilateral basis.  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE contribute actively to Global Multi-Donor Trust Funds managed by the World Bank. These contributions have included: (1) Saudi Arabia: Sudan Transition and Recovery Support Multi-Donor Trust Fund, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, Digital Development Platform, and Middle East and North Africa Fellows Program. (2) UAE: Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, and Global Partnership for Education Fund. (3) GCC: Trust Funds for Education particularly through partial contributions by Qatar Foundation.

The WBG also partners with existing multilateral and bilateral institutions in the GCC, including the Islamic Development Bank, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Monetary Fund, Saudi Fund for Development, Kuwait Fund, Qatar Fund for Development, and Abu Dhabi Fund. Such partnerships aim to leverage the financial support for development extended by GCC countries.

The GCC department of the World Bank is managed by four offices: a regional office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, headed by a Country Director; country offices in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi; and a country management unit at the headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Last Updated: Feb 13, 2023

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