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Many wings over the Gulf

The GCC/Qatar crisis is only the latest and most serious case of Gulf oil producers putting sovereignty above regional integration

There was a day when Gulf Air—tayran al-khalij in Arabic, which literally means 'the airline of the Gulf'—was just that. Or nearly. In the final decades of the last century, Gulf Air was a joint venture involving the governments of Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar. Not a bad base to build on. The formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1980 had led to hopes that the national airlines of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would come under the Gulf Air umbrella—providing an obvious early success story for the new regional grouping of oil producers. Not only did those two states fail to sign up, but over the space of a few years Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman pulled out of the joint venture, lea

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