What's driving Gulf interest to join BRICS?


Al-Monitor Pro Members


Dr. Karen E. Young

Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University


Sept. 1, 2023

Bottom Line:

South Africa hosted the annual summit of the BRICS countries in Johannesburg on Aug. 22–24. BRICS — made up of Brazil, Russia, India, mainland China and South Africa — is more of a forum than an institution, though its key outcome in the last meeting was an expansion of membership. Inclusion in the bloc does not require a policy or financial commitment, but rather signals a cohort of political economies open to different models of economic development and finance. The BRICS summit is like a Davos for developing countries and their leadership, more performative than substantive in international agreements. The expansion of the cohort included the admission of Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as members from January 2024. The formal institution affiliated with BRICS is the New Development Bank (NDB - previously known as the BRICS bank), yet the BRICS summit did not include any formal convening of the NDB or address applicants to its membership. However, one of the political aspirations of the group is to increase trade in currencies outside of the US dollar, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa requested that member states' finance ministers and central banks might work on reducing dollar use in trade, and to report on that progress at the next summit in 2024. 

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