On 14 May 2020, the Institute for Islamic Strategic Affairs (IISA) convened the first webinar of the MENA COVID-19 committee. The meeting was attended by 32 participants: a representative from the WHO, leading medical experts from Iraq, Turkey, Morocco, and Israel, as well as members from humanitarian and health organisations. It was also attended by members of the core group, two representatives from Nordic Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs), and participants from Iran and Jordan. This first webinar meeting aimed at gaining a preliminary overview of the COVID-19 situation on the ground and to discuss whether and to what extent regional cooperation may be possible.

Participants acknowledged the importance of the meeting and that the COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis never before seen, with short and long-term implications on public health and economies.

With states having different capabilities to cope with the crisis, participants affirmed that cooperation on a regional level is needed. In particular, participants highlighted the importance of information-sharing and the sharing of educational resources, such as lessons learned, as the best way to move forward.

The participants and organiser expressed commitment to engage in further dialogue on the issue and agreed to hold a future meeting in June 2020.