The statistical community in the Middle East received an important boost last week with the launch of a statistical center for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.. GCC-Stat was established on April 8 by the GCC to serve as the official provider of national statistics and other data for its six member states (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait). It is an independent supranational institution dedicated to the collection, analysis, and dissemination of official data on member states for the benefit of decision makers, researchers, and other users.
Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) welcomed the initiative, saying that “the IMF looks forward to collaborating closely with the regional center across the range of our activities. The creation of GCC-Stat will undoubtedly contribute to strengthening data collection and dissemination in the GCC countries and enhance cooperation among regional and international institutions in the area of statistics.”
“I would like to congratulate the GCC for establishing this regional statistical center, GCC-Stat,” said Louis Marc Ducharme, Director of the IMF’s Statistics Department. “GCC-Stat will make a significant contribution for improving the quality of statistics across its membership, in particular through the harmonized implementation of international standards.”
H.E. Sabir Bin Al Harbi, Director General of GCC-Stat, said that “the vision for GCC-Stat is to be a reliable resource and dynamic driver of the GCC Statistical System. GCC-Stat aims to provide statistical leadership regionally and internationally, working hand-in-hand with its membership and international organizations, in particular, the International Monetary Fund.”
The establishment of GCC-Stat is opportune in the context of increased emphasis on data transparency, comparability, and dissemination. GCC-Stat will assist its member countries in progressing to higher standards, including those supported by the IMF under its Data Standards Initiatives established in the late-1990s.
The International Monetary Fund has worked closely with the GCC countries to develop further their statistical systems. More generally, the Fund has been supportive of regional statistical initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa. In April 2003, the Council of Arab Finance Ministers formally approved the launching of ArabStat, which covers all Arab countries and is assisted by the Arab Monetary Fund and the IMF.