Gulf signs off $20bn aid deal for Oman, Bahrain

Ministers warn against foreign meddling as threat of Gulf unrest sends oil prices soaring
Gulf signs off $20bn aid deal for Oman, Bahrain
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministers warned against foreign meddling in Gulf affairs
By Joanne Bladd
Fri 11 Mar 2011 08:01 AM

Gulf ministers pledged $20bn in financial aid for protest-hit states Oman and Bahrain in Riyadh on Thursday in a bid to rein in the unrest sweeping parts of the Arab world

The GCC council said it would allocate $10bn each to its poorer neighbouring states to be paid over 10 years; a move it hopes will quell the protests that have torn through Bahrain and Oman in recent weeks.

An aid committee representing the six states will meet in two weeks to discuss allocation of the funds.

The bloc also issued a statement warning that it would not allow any foreign meddling in Gulf affairs, as fears of unrest spreading to oil giant Saudi Arabia sends global oil prices soaring.

Bahrain and Oman have fought to allay unrest by rolling out new economic measures including improved wages and social benefits. But neither country has the massive oil wealth or economic power of neighbouring Gulf states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar or the UAE.

Saudi Arabia has been quick to unveil economic benefits worth around $37bn in a bid to quash rumblings in its massive, young population.

The UAE, home of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, has pledged to spend $1.6bn on overhauling key infrastructure and housing in its poorer, northern emirates.

The combined economies of Bahrain and Oman are less than a fifth of that of Saudi Arabia and the aid package will offer a major boost to their budgets.

The funds will likely be used to create jobs and increase salaries for the young, who claim they lack opportunities and a say in government affairs.

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