This paper addresses the vision and early steps of the cooperation between the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) in Oregon, United States and the emerging Gulf Ecosystems Research Center (GERC) at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. The cooperation focuses on a better understanding and ability to predict the Arabian Gulf as a complex ecosystem, and involves science, technology and training components. An ultimate goal is the development for the Gulf of a "collaboratory" inspired on the concepts of integration of observations, simulations and stakeholder needs developed by CMOP for the Columbia River coastal margin, in the Eastern North Pacific. An early phase of the cooperation addresses the development of a 3D numerical model for the Arabian Gulf water circulation. A very preliminary forecasting system has been developed at CMOP, and its skill will be systematically assessed and improved by GERC and CMOP over the next several years, with the progressive deployment of a targeted observation network. Preliminary products include the visualization of the salinity fields associated with various river plumes. The model used was SELFE (a Semiimplicit Eulerian-Lagrangian Finite-Element model for cross-scale ocean circulation), the same that is being used for the Gulf predictions. Exploratory simulations were made to assess the ability of simple grid refinement strategies and/or use of higher order numerical schemes in improving the representation of the complex dynamics of plumes, filaments (eddies) and upwelling in the continental shelf of the Eastern North Pacific, off the Columbia River. Results suggested the need for automated grid optimization strategies, which are currently in progress.