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Saudi Arabia's Gulf Union project includes military dimension

Saudi Arabia begins 2014 with an assertive plan for regional leadership.

The inherent underpinning of Saudi Arabia’s emerging foreign policy doctrine is based on a clear and studied strategic posture that promotes economic stability and political security to counter and neutralize the upheavals that are tearing the Muslim and Arab worlds apart. This new proactive approach to international and regional affairs was clearly seen by the recent announcement of Nizar Obaid Madani, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, of the planned creation of the Gulf Union out of what is now known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This is the first and most important of the pillars on which the kingdom will base its new approach to the international scene to consolidate its central standing in the Middle East and beyond.

Saudi Arabia’s economy in 2013 has grown to $745.3 billion, making it the economic and financial engine of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with a gross domestic product (GDP) representing 22% of the entire economic output of the MENA region, 27.2% of the Arab world and 45.6% of the proposed Gulf Union. The kingdom’s economy is currently the world’s 19th largest (17th largest within the G20) and is expected to enter the “Trillion Dollar Club” by 2017. The Saudis are also the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum and have the globe’s largest sustained production capacity infrastructure at about 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd) and also have the world’s largest spare capacity currently estimated at about 2.0 million bpd or about 70% of global unused capacity.

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