ARAB WORLD: Rich Gulf states may roll out their own Marshall Plan to help Bahrain, Oman

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Oil- and energy-rich Gulf Arab states are considering rolling out a massive Marshall Plan-style program to help poorer neighbors Bahrain and Oman tackle unrest and social discontent, Kuwaiti media has reported.

According to the Kuwaiti Arabic daily Al Qabas (link in Arabic), citing unnamed high-level sources, the six-nation-strong Gulf Cooperation Council states are now involved in discussions about launching an aid package that would focus on economic and social reforms to boost living conditions in Bahrain and Oman, create more job opportunities for young people and enhance public services, among other things.


‘The Gulf Marshall project,’ said the report, will cover many needs.

Bahrain and Oman are reportedly the poorest members of the GCC, both with limited oil resources and problems providing enough jobs for residents.

The would-be economic package calls for Bahraini and Omani workers to be given priority for employment priority by other GCC states.

The report said a decision about the package could be made at a Gulf summit soon but did not give any details about its cost -- the plan’s name suggests a large-scale economic program. The original Marshall Plan, named after its architect, then-U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, was launched by the U.S in 1947 to rebuild Western Europe after World War II.

Over the last month, demonstrators demanding political and economic reforms have taken to the streets of Bahrain and Oman in rare protests against corruption and the lack of job opportunity.

Governments across the region, especially in the Gulf Arab countries, recently have launched packages and plans in an apparent bid to appease their populations following anti-government protests and popular revolts in other Arab countries.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut