ISJ Exclusive: Demonstrating the value of innovation and development


Share this content


Experts with deep knowledge of security in the Middle East share their regional insights with International Security Journal.

The Middle East is synonymous with innovation and technological application. Moreover, it is a region unafraid of the smart future, with countless cities utilising the latest and greatest solutions capable of boosting efficiency whilst improving safety and reducing emergency response times.

As we look ahead, rapid developments are not going to slow down. Following the success of Expo 2020 in the United Arab Emirates, the near arrival of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar – an internationally-focussed event generating significant growth – as well as the fourth edition of Intersec Saudi Arabia, security is one of the key sectors that is continuing to make its mark and thrive as the need for effective products, emerging technologies, risk strategies and safety protocols grows ever-stronger.

A key example of how security is advancing in the Middle East and North Africa region more broadly was discussed in a recent article for the publication, in which MVP Tech reported on how AI is one of the most transformative technologies shaping the fourth industrial revolution and acting as an economic growth catalyst.

With AI adoption set to grow the economy by $320 billion, businesses across industries are leveraging such intelligence to ‘improve customer experiences, increase efficiencies, boost bottom lines, open up new revenue opportunities, strengthen security’ and more.

With multiple facets shaping this month’s focus, International Security Journal caught up with security experts who shared their comprehensive understanding of the Middle East’s key trends and opportunities whilst exploring what may lie in store for the region over the coming months.

An exciting and dynamic region

John Cowling, Independent Security Consultant said that the Middle East security market is continuing to experience solid growth across the full spectrum of security, from consultancy to system integration, with end users “continuing to grasp the importance of maturity in systems convergence and interoperability” across platforms and applications.

Cowling continued: “This maturity growth is in part due to the regional governments’ proactive smart city initiatives as well as the manufacturers willingness and investment in research and development of modern technologies knowing that the end users value innovation as well as continuous and incremental development and improvements that enhance operational efficiency.”

Howard Leedham MBE, Principal of ESID Global Solutions and former Senior Aviation Advisor for the US Department of State explained: “The Middle East and North Africa presents an array of contrasts in the security environment that are as stark as the differences in the internal security of each country in the region.

“The security landscape and consequent range of demands necessitates security leaders to utilise available and cost-driven resources in an attempt to achieve proactive integration of technical, physical and human resources.

“Globally, the sector faces the constant challenge of deterring hostile intent through presence and working to deteriorate oppositional capability by increasing challenge, thus reducing threat and mitigating risk in order to protect assets.

“In the magnified environment of the Middle East, security businesses find themselves as service providers either in highly cooperative and permissive environments, within stable governmental doctrines, producing some of the most secure cities in the world, through to countries recovering from wars, sometimes in volatile, chaotic and high-threat environments.

“The unusual complexities of adapting resources to achieve safety and security while managing the demands of situational leadership across an array of business and operational challenges remain significant. However, the resultant business opportunities are as exciting as they are dynamic regardless of specific geographic location. From a security provider’s perspective, I can think of nowhere I would rather be.”

Looking specifically at the risk patterns that the Middle East is faced with, Matthew Burnard, Director at specialist consultancy, Control Risks, added: “Overall, terrorism threats to business continue to diminish across the region and regional counterterrorism capabilities remain effective, especially in the GCC countries.

“In the longer term, we are keeping a close eye on security threats driven by climate change. Droughts, floods, cyclones and extreme heat are becoming more frequent and more disruptive in the broader region.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

From a technological and security standpoint, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the region’s most rapidly developing countries. And, with the stage well and truly set for a fully booked Intersec Saudi Arabia – the Kingdom’s largest trade fair for security, safety and fire protection – its long-awaited return in Riyadh (13-15 September 2022) will bring together 150 exhibitors from 20 countries.

Taking place at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Intersec Saudi Arabia’s fourth edition will be covering commercial security, homeland security, fire and safety and cybersecurity.

As Alex Nicholl, Intersec’s Director, explained: “Safety and security is high on the agenda of Saudi’s Vision 2030 and there is a perennial requirement for safety and security products, fire protection and the accompanying innovations, all of which will be on display this year.”

Peter French MBE, CEO, SSR Personnel explored how security is developing in the Kingdom and beyond: “Wage inflation in 2022 will be 4% in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; this is driven by a continuing expanding job market as a result of COVID-19 recovery and the KSA 2030 vision for business and tourism.

“Over the last four years KSA has created more than 555,000 new jobs which will continue as there are USD 1 trillion worth of infrastructure and commercial projects planned as they diversify away from an oil economy.

“In July, the Public Prosecution department sent a reminder to all privately licensed security companies that the localised employment law, Nitaqat, requires workers, including guards, to be Saudi nationals. Violators face temporary closure, fines or cancellation of company licenses. Saudisation now requires that mostly nationals be recruited, for occupational health and safety jobs, which has created strong interest from young Saudis for compliance roles in the private sector. 

“Gulf Cooperation Council countries in 2022 have seen growth in fixed term jobs for expatriates, particularly in the UAE and Qatar. With the FIFA world cup only months away, the Qatari Government estimates tourism and hospitality would create 1.5 million jobs for the event.

“In Q2 of 2022, the Kuwait Communications and Information Technology regulatory authority announced the Kuwaitisation of information security across all sectors. In addition, Oman has been on a strong localisation drive; they announced a further 207 job categories where expatriate workers must be replaced by Omani nationals including watchmen and security officers.

“Despite localisation, countries are still vying for talent, offering enhanced bonuses and benefits during this period of growth.”

This article was originally published in the special September show edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox