Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food Security, has undertaken an official two-day visit to the United Kingdom, where she held a number of meetings with government ministers, officials and representatives of prominent food research centres, universities and companies, to explore bilateral cooperation in the areas of food trade, investment and scientific research.
Speaking about her trip, on which she was accompanied by Mansour Abdullah Khalfan Belhoul, the UAE Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Almheiri explained that it was aimed at identifying ways to enhance bilateral food trade between the two countries and to further collaboration in the field of food security by reviewing the latest research and projects underway in the sector.
"This visit formed part of our efforts to upscale our global partnerships and establish a framework based on cooperation in the field of food security to achieve mutual benefits. The UAE and UK share strong historical ties and have strategic partnerships in several areas, with food security being one. The UK is ranked third in the Global Food Security Index and as such, has comprehensive experience in the field.
This presents us with a great opportunity to study best practices and leading projects, to work together to develop mechanisms to enhance bilateral food trade, to develop more food security projects in the UAE and to attract further investments to our food sector," said Mariam Almheiri.
"The UK boasts an inspiring track-record in the fields of research and development and in sustainable food production. We, in turn, strive to employ the best expertise and experiences, taking into consideration the UAE’s unique climactic conditions and to leverage all possible means to achieve the targets of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy. We are working towards securing a top 10 position on the Global Food Security Index by 2021 and to carve out a pivotal role in international efforts to achieve global food security," Almheiri explained.
The first day of the visit saw a high-level meeting attended by Almheiri, Rt. Hon. Conor Burns, the UK Minister of State for International Trade, as well as senior officials from the ministry, representatives from the UK’s most prominent food companies and a group of high-profile investors.
During the meeting, Almheiri asserted that collaboration can be enhanced by expanding bilateral food trade and encouraging further investment in the UAE’s food sector, as well as outlined the National Food Security Strategy and the leading food and agricultural initiatives and projects currently underway in the UAE.
Rt. Hon. Conor Burns reaffirmed that the UAE and UK share close ties across an array of sectors. He underlined the importance of sustaining such strong relations and of working on common issues, citing the UK’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai and the efforts to increase food trade between the two countries.
The UK minister also highlighted the UK’s commitment to inviting the largest British investors to attend and examine the promising investment opportunities offered across all sectors in the UAE, particularly in relation to food production. He discussed his visit to the UAE, which aims to enhance cooperation in the sphere of food security, explore investment opportunities, and deepen existing ties between the two countries.
Almheiri also met with George Eustice, UK’s Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, along with a number of senior officials from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) - an executive agency of Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - most notably Prof. Gideon Henderson, Head of the Scientific Team at CEFAS, in addition to a number of representatives from Fera Science, which specialises in agri-food science.
The meeting discussed the scientific research and joint efforts, especially in fish farming. Almhreiri affirmed that the UAE has made many strides in the field and showcased several leading fish farming projects, as well as the research efforts of the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and its role in advancing local and international fish farming technology.
Mariam Almheiri concluded her first-day’s activities with a meeting with professors, researchers and specialists from UK universities that included University of Exeter, University of East Anglia, University of Leeds, University of Edinburgh, Lancaster University and University of Birmingham, as well as representatives from agri-tech companies, to explore current food technology initiatives underway.
She gave a presentation on the pillars of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy, its efforts, achievements and ambitions to achieve food security based on innovation and modern technology and the UAE’s goal to be one of top 10 countries in the Global Food Security Index by 2021.
Almheiri, on the second day, visited Norwich Research Park, NRP, in Norwich, England. She also went on a tour of the Sainsbury Laboratory, one of the world’s largest food research centres.
On the sidelines of her visit, Almheiri met with representatives from the John Innes Centre, the Quadram Institute, the Earlham Institute and Tropic Biosciences.