In the beginning, the Gulf Cup started with the participation of only four teams – Kuwait, the champions of the first edition, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – and the tournament continued to develop and become the most popular across the region.
The number of participating teams increased to five in the second tournament and then progressed to six in the third edition. Soon seven teams came into the tournament fold and when the event was staged in Qatar for the third time in 2004, the number of teams reached eight.
At the draw ceremonies, the participating teams were divided into two groups with the first and second teams being placed in the semi-finals. The winners in the semi-finals qualified for the final.
Kuwait has been the most successful team in the biennial tournament’s history, winning 10 tournaments out of 23 in total, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iraq all have three titles. The current champions are Oman, who defeated the United Arab Emirates in a penalty shootout in 2018 to win their second title.
In 1970, the first edition of the GCC Gulf Cup was held in the Kingdom of Bahrain with the participation of four teams (Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). Kuwait managed to win the title.
In 1972, the second edition was held in Saudi Arabia with the participation of five teams after the United Arab Emirates made their debut. Kuwait won the tournament.
In the third edition, held in 1974, the number of teams increased to six after the inclusion of Oman. Hosts Kuwait were crowned champions for the third time in a row.
The fourth edition, which was held in 1976 in Qatar, saw Iraq making their debut. Kuwait won the event for the fourth time.
In the fifth edition, hosts Iraq managed to break Kuwait’s monopoly and won the cup in 1979.
In the next installment of the tournament held in the United Arab Emirates; the Kuwaiti side recuperated and won the title for the fifth time.
In 1984, Iraq affirmed themselves as Gulf Cup heavyweights by winning their second title in the tournament held in Oman.
In the eighth edition, the Gulf Cup returned to its birthplace in Bahrain, once again Kuwait were crowned champions.
In 1988 in Saudi Arabia, Iraq were crowned champions for the third time in their history.
In the tenth edition played in 1990, hosts Kuwait afresh won the tournament, making it seven out of ten for the Al-Azraq (The Blue).
Two years later, a new champion has emerged when hosts Qatar won their first title.
In 1994, the United Arab Emirates hosted the tournament. This time it was Saudi Arabia’s turn to win their first title.
In the thirteenth installment of the tournament, Kuwait won the cup, the tournament was held in Oman.
The fourteenth Gulf Cup was held in Bahrain, in October/November 1998. The tournament was won by Kuwait for the ninth time.
The next edition saw Saudi Arabia win the title on their home soil.
In 2003, Kuwait hosted the tournament; Saudi Arabia won it for the second time on the trot (total of three). It was Yemen’s first appearance in the competition.
The seventeenth edition marked the return of Iraq to the competition, hosts Qatar won the title for the second time. It was the first time the current two-group system was implemented.
In 2007, hosts the United Arab Emirates became the fifth country to lift the title, courtesy of a 1-0 win over Oman in the final.
In 2009, hosts Oman joined the list of champions; they beat Saudi Arabia in the final.
2010 marked the twentieth edition of the competition, Kuwait emerged champions in the tournament held in Yemen.
Bahrain hosted he twenty first edition, which saw the United Arab Emirates win the title for a second time.
In 2014, Qatar became champions for the third time, thanks to a 2-1 victory over hosts Saudi Arabia.
In the twenty third edition took place in Kuwait from 22 December 2017 until 5 January 2018. Oman won their second title, defeating the United Arab Emirates in the final on penalties following a goalless draw.