GSO Organizes the 6th Gulf Conference on Laboratory Proficiency Under the Patronage of His Excellency the Minister of Commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Sixth Gulf Conference on Laboratory Proficiency under the theme “Laboratory Proficiency for Safe and Sustainable Food” was inaugurated today in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdulla Al Qassabi.
The Conference is organized by the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) in collaboration with the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO),18-19 October, 2022.
In his opening speech, His Excellency Mr. Saud bin Nasser Al-Khusaibi, President of GSO, welcomed their Excellencies and all participants in the conference, stating that the continuation of the conference in its sixth edition is a continuation of the success of the Gulf Conference on Laboratory Proficiency, which intends to sheds light on the most important challenges and opportunities facing the laboratories sector, and keeping in touch with the new emerging changes of the world that were surfaced after the Covid-19 pandemic and the global crises that began to appear in the field of food and the challenges of sustainability and safety of food along the various supply chains.
His Excellency explained that GSO is working in line with its strategic plan, to enhance the technical competency of laboratories in cooperation with the national standardization bodies in the member states, in compliance with the objectives of GSO strategic plan 2021-2025, and to implement many initiatives to harmonize and develop the laboratory sector in the member states to coop with Gulf trends to facilitate intra-regional trade and implement the single entry point, bearing in mind that laboratories are one of the pillars of the quality infrastructure that will contribute to accomplish the direction of the Gulf Cooperation Council to acquire the mechanisms of the Gulf common market by the year 2025.
His Excellency revealed that the Technical Council of GSO, in its 53rd meeting, which was held on 9-10 October 2022, decided to establish the Gulf Steering Committee for Laboratories, which will act as the Gulf umbrella to work on enhancing the competency of laboratories in line with mechanisms that are compatible with the distinguished initiatives that are applied in some member states and contribute to the transfer of experiences and raise interest in this sector.
His Excellency President of GSO expressed his thanks and appreciation to His Excellency the Minister of Commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for his sponsorship of the conference, and His Excellency the Governor of SASO for the support and strategic partnership for organizing the conference, and the active contribution to its success.
He also extended his thanks and appreciation to all standardization bodies in the Member States, the participants and those in charge of organizing the conference. He expressed his good wishes for the conference in achieving the desired results, praising the interaction of the participants, in person or remotely, with the conference and its accompanying activities.
A number of opening speeches were delivered at the opening ceremony by Her Excellency Ms. Marble Lopez, Vice President of the International Laboratory Accreditation Organization (ILAC), His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Riva, President of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), President of the International Initiative for Quality Infrastructure (NetQl), and His Excellency Mr. Sergio Mujica, Secretary General of the International Organization for standardization (ISO).
His Excellency Eng. Saud bin Rashid Al-Askar, Deputy Governor of SASO, delivered the speech of the strategic partner of the conference, in which he stated that the organization of this conference by GSO, with a strategic partnership of SASO, comes within the framework of the strategic programs of GSO and amid the presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the current session, adding that joint Gulf action is a priority for the Kingdom, and that SASO is working with its partners in the member states to enhance the quality infrastructure in accordance with well-studied strategic plans that are compatible with GSO strategic plan, and the strategic objectives for supporting the laboratories sector will contribute to harmonizing laboratory services among member states and achieving the goals of joint Gulf action, and we will continue to provide all means of support that enhance this field.
His Excellency pointed out the importance of inspection and testing activities within the quality infrastructure system, which constitutes a basic pillar supporting the economic and commercial sectors, as testing and inspection activities contribute to measuring the quality, safety and efficiency of products manufactured in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region, and providing a supportive environment to remove technical barriers to trade exchange, and protecting the health and safety of society and the environment, stressing the importance of laboratory accreditation activities in the region to ensure access to international arena in a manner that serves the Gulf system in achieving integration and expanding the scope of business.
His Excellency added that SASO has made great strides in developing the laboratories sector and working to enhance their efficiency, whether in terms of the legislative aspect or providing a work environment and support services that enable this sector to grow and develop and keep pace with the progress made in the various sectors in the Kingdom in accordance with Vision 2030.
His Excellency Dr. Saad bin Othman Al-Qasabi, Governor of SASO, delivered a speech on behalf of His Excellency the Minister of Commerce of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the sponsor of the ceremony. He indicated that this conference was held with wide international participation of international and regional organizations specialized in the field of laboratories and food safety and the participation of elite speakers and experts from the world is a true opportunity to provide a space for communication and dialogue between laboratories operating in the member states, and motivate laboratories to enhance their technical competency of their activities through the application of relevant international standards, and increasing the knowledge of Gulf laboratories specialists.
His Excellency called on all the specialized laboratories to benefit from these efforts, integration and exchange of experiences and practices in order to achieve the desired goals and enhance the joint Gulf action, stressing his full support for the strategic directions of GSO to promote Gulf action and achieving the mechanisms of the Gulf common market, including achieving the single-entry point and facilitating intra-trade.
He also expressed his aspirations that the outcomes of this conference would contribute to enhancing the competency of laboratories operating in the member states, as a mean of verifying conformity and safety of products in a way that facilitates trade exchange between member states and enhances conformity indicators in our national markets and the Gulf common market.
He added: “We in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seek to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in accordance with programs that help to bring about a healthy, high-quality life for the community within a distinctive and attractive environment that opens doors to a promising future in different sectors. The sector of testing and calibration laboratories is among these goals that we will work with our partners to enhance their presence in order achieve the envisaged aspirations.
The support and empowerment that the Kingdom enjoys in various sectors from His Highness, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, the leader of the inspiring vision, opens up future prospects for all sectors, and there is no doubt that the laboratory sector will receive a great deal of interest being a prelude to enhancing the quality infrastructure.”
At the conclusion of his speech, His Excellency praised the great efforts made by GSO to enhance the quality infrastructure in partnership with the national standardization bodies of the member states, and said: “We are confident of the role of these conferences in coming up with recommendations that will contribute to setting visions and targets for strategic plans that coincide with the needs and challenges of the current stage facing the joint Gulf action. In this regard, I would like to thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, may Allah protect him, for the support he provides for the joint Gulf action and the vision that is being implemented through the Supreme Council for the transition from the stage of cooperation to the stage of union.
A wide range of elite experts and specialists at the international, regional and Gulf levels participated in the conference in the fields of laboratories and standardization. More than 40 experts from 25 countries participated in the conference sessions and accompanying events, and a high-level representation from international organizations specialized in the fields of standardization such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the International Laboratory Accreditation Organization (ILAC) and other regional and international organizations, national standardization bodies and food safety bodies in the GCC States.
The Sixth Gulf Conference on Laboratory Proficiency is regarded as a platform for specialists in the region to exchange experiences and learn about the most prominent trends and new technologies, and an exceptional opportunity for specialists and staff of testing and calibration sector to communicate and discuss modern trends and the most prominent solutions to the challenges of the laboratory sector. The conference aims to achieve a set of immediate and future goals, the most important of which is providing a space to communicate and dialogue between laboratories operating in the member states, and to promote new developments in laboratories infrastructure, accreditation and legislation in the member states, as well as to assess laboratories’ needs and priorities in terms of proficiency testing programs, and supporting international recognition of the competence of laboratories operating in member states, in addition to introducing and highlighting the distinguished experiences of Gulf laboratories.
The conference addresses, in six topics, all aspects related to laboratory proficiency and its role in food sustainability and safety, as the working papers reveal how competency tests are an important tool for competitiveness, innovation and industry development.
Presentations by international organizations and experts specialized in their field, were given on enhancing the quality infrastructure for sustainability of food, and legislations to regulate food and food testing.
The conference also dealt with the role of laboratories in enhancing food safety within the Gulf common market through involvement of the competent Gulf and national bodies in the GCC States. It also dealt with laboratory proficiency and lessons learned from Covid -19 by reviewing experiences and working papers showing the current and future status of laboratories, and the new reality imposed by Covid 19 and how it affected the different sectors, in addition to reviewing the role of accreditation for laboratory competence in order to enhance food safety and sustainability, and its role in proving laboratory competence.
The conference also provided a wide area for discussion and knowledge, as it discusses in two sessions, the proficiency of laboratories – reality and challenges.