To cite this publication: Zahra Babar, “Free Mobility within the Gulf Cooperation Council,” CIRS Occasional Paper no. 8 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2011).
Stipulations within the formal protocols of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) established free movement of nationals as an essential component of the region’s movement towards full economic integration. This paper analyzes the protocols within the broader construct that stresses human emancipation and freedom of mobility as fundamental human rights. Throughout the GCC, states face the peculiar dilemma of supporting full freedom of mobility for citizens while also severely limiting and curtailing the mobility of the dominant, non-national population. This paper questions how normative debates on the freedom of movement apply to the Gulf region and examines the policy and practice of strictly managing the movement of international migrants while at the same time freeing up movement for citizenry. This paper proposes that in the GCC, the regional political economy and the processes of regionalization and globalization have combined to tighten controls over mobility and migration.