U.A.E. Food Security Minister Reveals Pandemic’s Impact on Food Security Strategy


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Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, U.A.E. Minister of State for Food Security, detailed U.A.E. efforts to ensure a steady supply of food in this time of crisis while highlighting the impacts of the pandemic on future food security plans and initiatives during a webinar jointly hosted by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council,. The webinar, which took place on 18 May 2020, is the latest in the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s webinar series titled, “Looking Ahead: Conversations with U.S. and U.A.E. Business and Government Leaders.”

Ambassador Douglas Silliman, President of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) and Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council began the webinar by providing guests with background on growing U.S.-U.A.E. cooperation in the vertical, as evidenced by the Business Council’s February food security mission.

After thanking U.A.E. leaders for providing guidance and support in these extraordinary times, H.E. Al Mheiri reviewed the U.A.E.’s national food security strategy and response to the coronavirus pandemic. In her remarks she outlined the importance of preparing for crises by ensuring an adequate supply of food from diverse sources.

Ambassador Silliman and Mr. Danny Sebright then moderated a discussion on immediate and long-term food security challenges and goals. Her Excellency provided insight into how the U.A.E.’s national food security strategy allowed the country to avoid the food shortages and supply disruptions experienced by much of the world. Moreover, she expanded upon the ways in which the pandemic will shape future food security initiatives in a country that imports the large majority of its food. 

Her Excellency also provided a timely update on U.A.E. investment in the food security vertical, lauding the importance of cooperation with businesses in the U.A.E., U.S., and around the world to achieve national food security objectives. She explained that the U.A.E. is also coordinating closely with other governments in the region and beyond to provide humanitarian aid. 

She then outlined newly prioritized areas of potential collaboration between the U.S. and U.A.E. moving forward:

  • Joint ventures between U.S. and U.A.E. firms in the agricultural/water sectors in the U.A.E.
  • Enhanced bilateral trade, particularly in new foods-such as plant-based proteins – which are not currently consumed, and grown or produced in the U.A.E.
  • R&D collaboration in areas suitable to the U.A.E.’s climate of sea, sand, and sun, such as growing algae
  • Collaboration in all areas of capacity building and development of expertise
  • New focus on research and development and partnerships with best in class U.S. educational and research institutions
  • Working with U.S. partners to create new interest by youth and women in pursuing careers in the agricultural sector

The video call was attended by over 300 senior executives from leading American and Emirati food production, financial and technology companies, as well as by U.S. and U.A.E. government officials.

Find a video of the event here.

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council will continue its webinar series titled, “Looking Ahead: Conversations with U.S. and U.A.E. Business and Government Leaders,” this Wednesday, May 20th, with a discussion featuring  Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker. Past events in this series include conversations with U.A.E. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and U.S. Ambassador John Rakolta Jr.  surrounding the economic impacts of Covid-19, and webinars with H.E. Waleed Al Muhairi from Mubadala Investment Company, Sir Tim Clark and Mr. Tony Douglas from Emirates and Etihad, healthcare technology leaders, leading law firm Morgan Lewis, and prominent American tech companies. For more information about this series, please contact the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s head of communications Mary Zuccarello at mzuccarello@usuaebusiness.org.