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GCC Meeting to Focus on Gaza, Economic Situation

The finance ministers of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – will be meeting in the Omani capital Muscat on Monday.
The discussion will focus on the economic situation and the recent events in Gaza, several news agencies reported.
In addition to the discussion of how the countries will deal with the falling prices of oil, which have dropped from $150 some six months ago, to below $40 today. The GCC sits on 25 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 45 percent of oil reserves, and provides a quarter of its oil demands.
The GCC’s plans for a common currency will also be debated at the summit. The plan was accepted at last year’s meeting in Doha, Bahrain, and aims to establish a single currency by 2010, but already Oman has dropped out of the plan.
Despite the economic success of the Gulf countries, their currencies are still tied to the U.S. dollar, which means that if the dollar is weak, as it is now due the economic crisis in the U.S., then the local currencies will also become weak.
This situation has fueled record levels of inflation in the GCC member states, increasing the cost of living and devaluation of salaries, making the countries less attractive destinations for the foreign workers who provide the majority of their work forces.