The GCC is a fast-growing region in the Middle East both in economic and demographic terms. The traditionally hydrocarbon-based economy has exploited national resources for the export sector and for energy-intensive industries. Governments and state-owned fossil fuel companies have benefited from the revenues generated that were used to finance public expenditure, employ a large number of national citizens and energy subsidies that have guaranteed low-priced energy. Owing to the increasing domestic energy demand and fossil fuel price fluctuations and crises, the Gulf countries have agreed to implement a national long-term strategy plan that aims to diversify the economy and shift it from a resource-dependent regime to a liberal model.
Furthermore, in light of the environmental impact of the oil and gas industry, the diversification of the economy represents a chance for an energy reform that encompasses the gradual hydrocarbon phase out and the progressive advancement of renewable energy. Overall, this strategy will be relevant to maximise multiple benefits and synergies, considered the cross-sectoral interlinkages between a transition towards renewable energy with virtually all SDGs. This effort has to be supported by a policy framework that on the one hand norms and regulates the design and the implementation of the projects with long-term programming; on the other hand, it stimulates and attracts investments from stakeholders and it creates a favourable economic environment for renewable energy deployment. Transparent and efficient national institutions are the key enabler for renewable energy implementation, and they are responsible to foster the decarbonisation of the energy sector through proactive and integrated policies.