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PublicationImproving the Quality of Financial Intermediation in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries(Washington, DC, 2015-06) World Bank GroupThis engagement note provides a snapshot of financial development in the countries of the GulfCooperation Council (GCC), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and identifies key areas of the financial sector reform agenda where the World Bank Group (WBG) through the Finance Markets Global Practice (FMGP) can provide its support, in particular through the provision of analytical services and advisory (ASA). A key challenge for GCC countries is to diversify their economic structures, increase the role of the private sector, improve the efficiency of the government and reform the educational system and the labor market. This is essential to create employment opportunities for a young and growing domestic population. In this context, the development of an efficient, stable and inclusive financial sector is a policy objective in itself and a necessary conduit to a more diversified and productive economic system. Against this backdrop, this engagement note suggests that improving the quality of financial intermediation in GCC economies is a balancing act between enhancing access and preserving stability. Accordingly, it detects and discusses several areas of engagement for WBG which are consistent with the financial sector reform agenda of the region. In particular, based on the expertise and delivery capacity of WBG, particularly of FMGP, this engagement note suggests that WBG target ASA in the following areas: (i) financial infrastructure, particularly insolvency regimes, creditor rights and payment and settlement systems; (ii) banking competition; (iii) government debt capital market development, including sukuk; (iv) credit guarantee schemes for SMEs; and (v) macro prudential supervision.