IAOM Middle East-Africa District Conference Review

by Emily Buckley
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The 15th Annual Conference and Trade Show for the International Association of Operative Millers’ Middle East-Africa district drew nearly 550 participants from 45 different countries to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in early October. Nearly 80 participants were attending the meeting for the first time.

This is the meeting’s highest attendance record, according to Conference Chairman, Essa Al Ghurair, who is also chairman of Dubai-based National Flour Mills.

"We were happy to bring so many flour millers together, so knowledge and information can be shared for the benefit of the industry," Al Ghurair said. "It was magnificent that so many new participants came to the conference seeking knowledge and exchanging ideas on developments affecting their industry, as well as making new contacts and friendships."

Following an opening address by Al Ghurair, Gary Anderson, IAOM executive vice-president, greeted the participants and noted that it was the Middle East and Africa that helped put the ‘I’ in the AOM.

The well-attended technical sessions and trade show presented a wide variety of topics and the latest technology developments. "It was an opportunity to witness under one roof so many of the industry’s great craftsmen, who are continually striving to meet the technological challenges and furthering the advancement of the great flour milling industry," said Mark Healing, production manager at NFM.

The ‘grand finale’ of the technical presentations was a panel discussion and ‘question and answer’ session on the global wheat market, chaired by Djamal Djouhri of Gulf Import Export. The panel included Dick Prior, U.S. Wheat Associates; Chris Gillen and Graham Worden, Canadian Wheat Board; Michael Long, AWB; Philippe Kaspi, France Export Cereales; and Walter Troisch, Dominion Grain.

The Flour Fortification Initiative & Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) also held a session during the meeting. Speaker Tim Burliegh explained the vision for international acceptance of flour fortification. Essa Al Ghurair explained in his address that since the 2002 IAOM in Mauritius, all the flour from National Flour Mills was fortified for local consumption, and he also encouraged international customers to accept fortified flour.

Several other speakers noted the need for flour fortification in the Middle East, the role of the IAOM in regards to training and technical support, and several encouraged millers to be advocates of flour fortification in their own countries.

At the end of each day, there was time for everyone to gather, to meet old friends, make new ones and enjoy the fellowship at the evening venues, which included an opening reception in the Intercontinental Hotel hosted by Buhler, a barbecue hosted by the Australian Wheat Board at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yatch Club, a Desert Safari sponsored by the U.S. Wheat Associates, and a gala dinner hosted by the Canadian Wheat Board.

Next year’s conference chairman is Seyyed Mohammed Reza Mortazavi, who serves as the vice-chairman of the Iranian Association of Flour Milling Industry, the general secretary of Iran’s Association of Flour Producers, and director of Setareh Flour Mills in Tehran, Iran.

Also at the meeting, Nicolas Tsikhlakis of the Modern Flour Mills & Macaroni Factories in Amman, Jordan, was named district treasurer.

Save the date!

IAOM’s Technical Conference and Trade Show will be held May 15-19, 2004 in Wichita, Kansas, U.S.

Many of the presentations will soon be available on www.aomdubai.com.