The ruling elites of the independent states that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the six-member association of countries founded in 1981, are paying increasing attention to haweeya al-watani (national identity) and turath (heritage) within their countries. However, the concept of nation in the Gulf Arab countries is underdeveloped to the extent that the emergent public debate about ways to protect national identity has not yet de¢ned what is meant by ‘national’. According to one UAE academic, ‘The national identity assertion doesn’t mean Emirati identity so much as indigenous identity, being from this area, [being one of] the indigenous people’ (al-Kitbi 2008).