The GCC at Cross-Roads: Responding to New Economic Order Conference - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

The GCC at Cross-Roads: Responding to New Economic Order Conference

December 08,2019
Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Hosted by Sultan Qaboos University, College of Economics and Political Science

Since the early 1970s, successive economic development plans in each of the six members of the Gulf Cooperating Council have emphasized economic diversification as the major path towards achieving long-term sustainable growth. Oil revenues were used to realize investments in infrastructure, provision of services and in particular education and health as well as to build up savings in sovereign wealth funds and other external saving instruments. The oil revenues were also used to provide for transfers and jobs to nationals in the public sector with relatively higher wages and benefits than is offered in the private sector. Thus, growth in the GCC economies became increasingly driven by public spending which, in turn, tilted the production structure towards non-tradable goods and services at the expense of tradables. Importantly, no GCC country has managed to create the required human capital to generate sophisticated exports and drive economic diversification forward.

The decline in oil prices that began in 2014, combined with increasing demands on governments’ purses led the GCC economies to shift their attention to structural reforms designed to promote productivity and encourage the private sector to assume a larger role in the economy. Efforts at structural reforms should focus on:

  • Building a robust human capital base and develop the institutional capacity for effectively deploying it in order to affect the orientation toward the knowledge economy
  • Following a “rules-based” economic policy framework rather than “discretionary” processes
  • Steering the structure of incentives in the economy towards skill- intensive tradable sectors that could also provide attractive jobs for nationals
  • Engineering a much more sophisticated industrial policy that encourages productivity growth

The above suggested development strategy entails undertaking a coherent set of institutional and policy reforms at both the micro and macroeconomic levels as well as critical assessing the social consequences of the current and potential economic programs. Read more..

Conference Objectives

Subscribing to the above overview, the ERF and a consortium of GCC universities have recently launched the GCC Economic Research Initiative (GCCeRI), which is aimed at building a network for GCC researchers where they can interact with each other and the wider ERF research community to share ideas and collaborate on policy-oriented research.  In this context, the GCCeRI would provide a platform for GCC researchers and policy makers to discuss research and policy issues as well as regional and global developments; and, disseminate research outcomes to the public through means of publications, newsletters, conferences and workshops. This conference is designed to be the major inaugural event of the GCCeRI. The conference is organized jointly by the Economic Research Forum and the several GCC universities. It will convene around 70 researchers from the region and outside it and will last for two days, covering a rich agenda of plenary and parallel sessions and social events.

Conference participants will be self-sponsored; however, the organizers will grant partial sponsorship for a limited number of participants.

The organizers welcome submissions of proposals or completed draft papers on any topic of relevance to the GCC economic development and public policy issues, most notably the following:

1. GCC Growth and Development Strategies:

  • Sources of growth and productivity
  • Structural transformation, industrialization and growth strategies
  • Human capital and Growth
  • Industrial policy, Economic diversification, economic transformation and growth
  • Trade, financial Development and growth
  • GCC-wide Infrastructure, economic cooperation and growth

2. GCC Macroeconomic Institutions:

  • Sovereign Wealth Funds and FDI
  • Sovereign wealth Funds and domestic macro stabilization
  • Fiscal institutions and counter-cyclical policies
  • Internal and external imbalances
  • Exchange rate regimes and macroeconomic stabilization
  • Exchange rate regimes and macroeconomic competitiveness

3. Finance:

  • The macro and microeconomic effects of e-finance.
  • Crypto-currencies and classical banking systems.
  • The role of blockchains and recent development in the financial markets.
  • Macro/micro prudential regulatory framework supporting financial stability
  • Systemic risks: Measurement Approaches for Islamic banks
  • Regulatory framework for Islamic vis-à-vis conventional banks
  • Contemporary risks to financial stability arising from Islamic banking model in an integrated financial system

4. Labor Market:

  • Economic development in labor-exporting countries and implications for the GCC
  • Labor market strategies and economic transformation
  • Labor market characteristics

5. Realizing the GCC Common Market and its Full Benefits:

  • The effect of trade wars on GCC trade
  • The political economy of trade protection
  • The effect of trade policies on labor market
  • The determinants of integrating into global value chains
  • The effect of non-tariff measures on exports and imports
  • The role of supranational institutions in supporting economic integration efforts
  • Structural impediments to trade and economic integration in the GCC
  • The role of trade and economic integration in the drive towards diversification and transition to a GCC knowledge-based Economy

6. Inequality:

  • Inequality- of opportunity, access to resources …etc.
  • Inequality and skills premium.
  • Diverse workforce and inequality in the GCC labor force.
  • Gender inequality in GCC labor force.
  • Inequality, taxation system and growth in the GCC.

7. Food Security in the GCC

The GCC countries without exception have one of the world’s most comprehensive plans to address food security, but much can be done to improve its resilience and sustainability. Food security requires a functioning and sustainable food system, which encompasses many variables. Under food security, the proposed research papers and research proposals may address the following issues:

  • The production of food and the relationship between investment, allocation of resources and utilization of food
  • The supply chain financing approach and technology-based food processing industries —Innovative financing.
  • Diplomatic relations and investment pattern in food production.
  • The challenges that threaten the food security in the GCC countries.

Guidelines for submissions

Authors should submit an original proposal of a maximum length of ten double spaced pages [excluding appendices, tables, figures and references]. Authors of the selected proposals will be self-funded, however, the steering committee of ERF and the GCC consortium of universities and policy research institutions might grant some limited funding for few cases.

Proposals should be structured so as to contain sections in the following format. ERF reserves the right to exclude proposals that are not consistent with these guidelines:

  1. Statement of the research problem: A clear and concise description of the nature and importance of the proposed research, its scope and boundaries, its general context, and its objectives, with explicit reference to feasibility and policy relevance.
  2. Value Added: A selective and analytical review of the relevant literature, with a view to both demonstrating knowledge of prior theoretical and empirical work, as well as identifying the knowledge gap that the proposed research seeks to address.
  3. Conceptual Framework and Research Methodology: A clear statement of the conceptual framework should be provided, elaborating on the set of specific, identifiable and concrete questions for which the proposed research intends to answer. This is to be followed by an elaboration of the research methods to be employed and why they are best suited to answer the research questions. This section should also indicate the nature of the information required and the data collection techniques, whether primary or secondary or a combination of the two. Finally, it should explain how the information will be analyzed and interpreted using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.

Important note: The proposal/ paper can be submitted in English or Arabic. The proposal/paper should NOT include the authors’ names, as it will undergo a blind review process.


  • Researchers should have expertise in the topic being researched.
  • At least one of the main researchers should be a GCC national or working at a GCC-based university or economic policy research institution.
  • Researchers from disciplines other than economics may apply.

Selection criteria

  • The value added of the project in terms of contribution to existing knowledge.
  • The methodological rigor, be it econometric methods or a qualitative research design for a within or cross-case comparison.
  • Policy relevance of the proposed project.

Approval process

  • All proposals and outputs will be peer reviewed. Authors of accepted proposals will be requested to respond to comments of the reviewers.

Important Dates

  • Deadline for submission of the research proposals/papers: September 20, 2019
  • Announcement of accepted research proposals: September 30, 2019
  • Submission of final papers: November 15, 2019
  • Conference to present the papers: December 8 – 9, 2019

Submit your proposal/paper online here:

For queries, please contact Faiza Jafar at