In 30 years, the International Association of Operative Millers’ Mideast and Africa District has seen its annual event grow from 70 attendees to an estimated 1,000 attendees from more than 50 countries.

The region’s roots date back to March 1989, when 15 millers met in Amman, Jordan, to discuss technical topics as well as the benefits of a miller’s association. Officers were elected and the first session was set for November of that year in Cairo, Egypt.

At that meeting in November, the president of what was then AOM explained the benefits of being a part of that association versus an area miller’s association. It became the first official district of AOM outside of the Americas and was named Middle East & East Africa District.

Since then, the district has seen exponential growth, with the name changing to Mideast & Africa District in 2001. Four years later, at its conference in Morocco, the MEA Region Leadership Council had its first meeting. The council is responsible for oversight of the region’s goals, programs, operations and development, as well as selection of conference locations.

“The credit for this growth and the continued success of the region belongs to the amazing Leadership Council and the team at the IAOM-MEA office in Oman,” said Melinda Farris, IAOM executive vice-president. “Since its inception, the region has had very strong leadership from the milling community. Several of the founding members of the original Middle East & East Africa District are still actively involved today.”

The 30th anniversary event will be Nov. 3-6 at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and will feature three days of discussion and education, an expo and a pre-conference two-day seminar on silo management and safe grain storage.

In 2015, Essa Al Ghurair, right, received an award for his contribution to the IAOM MEA district.

Conference history

The annual conference has grown to one of the premier events for the milling industry worldwide, Farris said.

“By combining the management and operative millers, it has carved out a special niche for its activities in this part of the world,” she said.

Millers in the region benefit from learning about new and emerging technologies each year at the exhibition and from lectures on technical aspects and wheat trading, said Essa Al Ghurair, a member of the MEA Leadership Council.

“This helps them in deciding to improve their existing technology, buy new mills/equipment, purchase wheat from different sources based on their need and prices,” he said. “These conferences have also helped the millers to use different enzymes and characters to improve flour quality and value optimization.

“Above all, IAOM-MEA provides an annual forum where the millers have an opportunity to meet and share so many common things that help them come up with new ideas.”

30th event

This year’s event includes a two-day seminar on silo management and safe grain storage on Nov. 2-3. It will cover multiple topics, including procedures in receiving grain and filling silo bins; discharging grain; monitoring the grain’s temperature, moisture and weather conditions during storage; measures for safe storage; infestation management and pest control; steel silo maintenance; critical points for sanitation; and how to handle flat bottom discharge.

The seminar is exclusively for flour/feed milling industry operation management, silo staff, head millers and grain procurement managers. It will be in the Diamond Meeting room at Novotel DWTC.

The main conference kicks off with an opening reception from 7:30-10 p.m., on Sunday, Nov. 3. Presentations begin with a speech by Al Ghurair at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, followed by a welcome speech from Ali Habaj, regional director of IAOM MEA.

A panel discussion on what the coming year holds is next, featuring speakers from the world’s largest grain traders. Panelists include Giovanni Ravano, senior vice-president of global trade, Bunge; Michel Meyer, Middle East and Africa manager, grains and oilseeds, Cargill; Bas van Hoorn, global trading manager, grains department, Glencore Agriculture; Don Campbell, general manager, international, GrainCorp; and Pedro Nonay, head, Europe, Middle East & Africa region and regional head of grains, Louis Dreyfus Co.

Another panel discussion on Wednesday, Nov. 6, will look at the next generation of millers, including the challenges and opportunities for family companies. Speakers will include company leaders from Modern Mills of Lebanon and Essa Al Ghurair Investment.

Multiple sessions are planned providing market outlooks for different regions of the world including France, the United States, Australia, Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Dan Basse, president and founder of AgResource Co., will address “the risk of climate in a world awash in wheat,” on Nov. 6.

Multiple milling technical sessions are planned on topics such as new-generation weighing systems; grain cleaning; improved systems for gluten testing; intelligent milling systems; food safety and hygiene; practical storage and more.

Feed milling will be the focus on the morning of Nov. 5 with a panel Q&A and technical presentations on insect protein and control of pathogens in byproducts.

More information and registration details are available at