The Lands and Their Economies
The total land area of the GCC countries is approximately 2,475,190 square kilometers (approximately 28 percent of the United States). In terms of size, Saudi Arabia is the largest GCC states (over 2.1 million square kilometers) and occupies nearly 87 percent of the total area (Table 3.1). The second largest GCC state is Oman (9 percent of total area), followed by the UAE (3.4 percent) and Kuwait (0.72 percent). Bahrain, with a land area of only 620 square kilometers, is the smallest.
Geologically, the whole Arabian peninsula is a huge platform of ancient rocks that is tilted with the highest part in the West and the lowest part in the coastal East. 1 This rock formation makes the western part of Arabia rough and mountainous, and the eastern part rather flat. The East is the home of the sedimentary rocks where fossil fuel deposits were and will be discovered. This was where the history of American special relations with the Gulf began.
Generally, the Arabian peninsula has arid and extreme climactic conditions. This is due to the fact that the peninsula is basically covered with deserts. The oases are concentrated in the western coast ( Saudi Arabia), the central region ( Saudi Arabia), and the southeastern coast of the peninsula ( Oman). The presence of some surface water in the oases allows some cultivation, but there is extremely scarce irrigated land in the Gulf states. The existence of violent dust windstorms and hot weather near the center and high humidity in the coastal regions make life hash and precarious. These severe arid climactic conditions combined with the soil composition mean that agricultural activities are very limited with traditional methods and tools.
In short, the weather and soil patterns together with the lack of surface water have meant great difficulties and high costs for economically