Gulf oil-producing states have agreed to conduct their first joint census in 2010 as part of a long-standing deal to achieve full integration of their economies and other sectors, a Gulf official said in July.
Mohammed Al Amer, Director of Bahrain's State Central Information Authority said that officials from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) approved the project at their talks in Manama this week and that arrangements are underway.
"Co-ordination in conducting a joint census is an essential step in the direction towards making the GCC countries one entity," he told reporters. "Member states have already started to set up workshops to fix census dates in 2010 and agree on common data, which will be gathered by one GCC country… this project will have great benefits for planning and other sectors."
Most GCC states do not conduct a periodical census but normally publish population estimates through their government offices.
In 2006, their combined population was estimated at 35.09 million and was expected to have exceeded 36 million by the end of last year.
Saudi Arabia, the world's dominant oil power, is by far the largest and most populous GCC nation, accounting for nearly 65 percent of the total in 2006.
The U.A.E. had the second largest population in 2006, with around 4.22 million. It was followed by Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
GCC states have recorded one of the world's highest population growth rates over the past three decades because of high birth rates among nationals and a massive influx of foreign workers to the region.
Independent estimates show that expatriates accounted for more than a third of the combined GCC population in 2006, but in some member states they exceeded 80 percent.
The six members of the GCC formed their economic, defence and political alliance in May 1981. Two years later, they signed an agreement to merge their economies by creating a customs union, a common market and a single currency.
The monetary union project was plunged into doubt in 2006 when Oman decided it would not join, and again in 2007 when Kuwait broke ranks with its neighbours and severed its dollar peg.
“It's a tight schedule; it’s very difficult to meet. But that doesn't mean that the union is out. We've already agreed on the framework,” Al-Sayyari said. “The original schedule to issue a [single] currency – that is very difficult to meet. So we will review this schedule and decide on a schedule that is feasible... because 2010 was supposed to be the date for issuing new banknotes.”
Any revisions to the timeline must be decided at the meeting between Gulf central bank governors and finance ministers in September and by Gulf rulers in November, Al-Sayyari said. “It is premature to say what's going to happen,” he added.
The monetary union project was plunged into doubt in 2006 when Oman decided it would not join, and again in 2007 when Kuwait broke ranks with its neighbors and severed its dollar peg.