Heads of the World Food Programme (WFP) Country Offices in the Middle East and North Africa have gathered in Dubai this week for the annual regional meeting. Sponsored by Dubai’s International Humanitarian City (IHC), the meeting was held on October 21-23, and attended by over 50 WFP country directors and staff from the UN food agency’s regional bureau in Cairo and Rome headquarters. The Syria and Yemen emergencies were the highest priorities, but directors also explored innovative projects to address food insecurity in the region.

“We are grateful to HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the Government of Dubai in supporting our annual meeting in Dubai where we have a strong partnership to fight hunger in the region,” said Mohamed Diab, WFP’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Our partnership is one of the most dynamic and long-standing ones in the region.” WFP is the largest user of the International Humanitarian City and it delivers more than $1 billion worth of food assistance in the Arab world and is seeking to strengthen its ties with the Red Crescent and major Islamic NGOs and foundations based in the Gulf States.

Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme opened the meeting which is held annually in different parts of the region to discuss regional and worldwide operations. Over the last three years, it has been hosted in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

This is the second WFP gathering to be held in the UAE in less than a year with the very first WFP Global Management Meeting in the Middle East taking place in Dubai in December 2012 with over 170 WFP Country Directors who reviewed the Programme’s strategies to address hunger in ongoing emergencies and poor countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.