About OPEN Gulf

In an effort to reverse the growing epidemic in the GCC and to help address the multifaceted nature of obesity, OPEN Gulf was established in October 2019 as part of the global OPEN network.

The core focus of OPEN Gulf is to create a region-wide coalition, aiming towards tackling obesity from a multidisciplinary perspective. In order to achieve this core focus, OPEN Gulf also aims to establish a National Task Force in each member of the Gulf countries to develop a national road map to improve obesity care and outcomes in their respective countries.

Key Activities

Held in Kuwait, the OPEN Gulf inaugural meeting brought together 50 delegates from five countries, comprising policy makers, healthcare professionals, patient representatives and other thought leaders in the field of obesity from Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Bahrain and Oman to re-think how obesity is currently being tackled in the region. Delegates were provided with the opportunity to push obesity thinking to new levels across the region and learn how “box-less thinking” and service redesign can help find sustainable solutions for the epidemic.

The meeting was hosted under the patronage of the Ministry of Health in Kuwait, and co-hosted with the Embassy of Denmark, the World Obesity Federation, the Gulf Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, the Economist Intelligence Unit and Novo Nordisk.

The overarching theme of the inaugural meeting was ‘Prioritising Obesity’, with the aim being to help representatives strengthen their collective voice nationally to effectively drive change in the way their countries view and manage obesity. The agenda was designed to provide attendees with the opportunity to be part of a high-level coalition of policy makers, to push obesity thinking to new levels regionally, and to gain insight into the importance of a ‘collective voice’ to drive long-term change. Representatives also learned how novel ideas can provide sustainable solutions, how service redesigns from other disciplines may be relevant, and discussed best practices for tackling obesity’s complexity.

Priorities in 2020 and beyond

  • Sharing an executive summary of the OPEN Gulf inaugural meeting with existing members
  • Supporting governments with the establishment of a National Task Force in each member state, recognising that Kuwait, UAE, KSA, Bahrain and Oman operate in different political and healthcare environments
  •  Agreeing on ways of working, member structure and commitment to moving focus areas forward
  • Working on a national road map to improve obesity care


1 Samara, A., Tanggaard Andersen, P. and R. Aro, A., 2019. Health Promotion And Obesity In The Arab Gulf States: Challenges And Good Practices. [online] hindawi.com. Available at:

2 Sulaiman, N. and Peeters, A. (2017). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in United Arab Emirates Expatriates: the UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Study. [online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5667520/