World Bank urges Gulf Arab states to prioritize environmental sustainability

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The World Bank has urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to give priority to environmental sustainability, while diversifying their economies to reduce dependence on oil and gas revenues in an era of low energy prices.

As part of its diversification strategies, the six GCC countries are largely developing heavy energy-intensive industries such as the petrochemical sector.

The six GCC members are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

In a report published on Wednesday, the World Bank recommended the establishment of "effective" environmental management institutions and practices, as well as increased investments in renewable energy sources.

"Looking ahead to the independent, a diversification scenario that does not take into account environmental sustainability is no longer a viable option," said Essam Abdul Sulaiman, World Bank Regional Director for GCC.

The World Bank said that the GCC countries pledged about $ 10.1 billion between 2006 and 2018 for renewable energy investments, but their combined production of renewable energy totaled 867 megawatts, or less than 1 percent of the existing 145 gigawatts of generating capacity. End at the end of 2018.

He added that subsidized fuel prices for oil and gas power plants remain a barrier to the implementation of renewable energy projects.

Countries in the Gulf region are facing stagnant economic growth this year, while low energy prices and OPEC-led oil production cuts overshadow improvements in non-oil sectors.

The World Bank predicts that Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Arab world, will grow by 0.4 percent this year, lower than Riyadh's forecast of 0.9 percent, while growth in the United Arab Emirates is expected to 1.8 percent, less than the expectations of the Emirates Bank Central Bank amounted to 2.3 percent.

Qatar's economy is expected to grow 0.5 percent this year before accelerating to 1.5 percent in 2020 and 3.2 percent in 2021, the only Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country expected to post a budget surplus in the three-year period, the World Bank said.

But he added that Qatar, as well as Kuwait and Oman, should avoid delaying the introduction of a value-added tax needed to reduce the impact of oil price fluctuations on public finances.

Oman, whose economy is particularly vulnerable to oil price fluctuations, said its plans to introduce VAT were on track, but gave no date.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have introduced VAT over the past two years.



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