As the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) strive to compete in the 21st century, they face a number of challenges, including fluctuating oil and gas prices, economic diversification, and the need to build up human capital and create jobs for GCC nationals. To address these challenges, the Arab Gulf states are embarking on knowledge-based economic development. 

To improve human capital, GCC states have made generous investments in financing education at all levels, telecommunication infrastructure and services, and Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). There is room, however, to maximize benefits from these investments, and there are many opportunities for GCC states to benefit from knowledge-based economic development. A business-friendly environment, including transparent regulations, financing mechanisms, and venture capital, is required to create jobs for GCC nationals and to encourage young entrepreneurs and innovators to commercialize proven research output and innovative ideas. 

This paper will highlight and review knowledge-based economy, the information society, innovation ecosystem, and key STI indicators for selected countries, including the GCC states, and compare them with the BRICS group of countries: Brazil, Russia (Russian Federation), India, China, and South Africa. Additionally, it will analyze a comparison of performance of GCC and BRICS countries in terms of The Networked Readiness Index 2015, The Global Innovation Index 2014, Key STI Indicators, and the “Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency.” Finally, the paper will review GCC states’ recent actions and achievements toward knowledge-based development and outline future challenges and opportunities.