Exclusive: Security in the city of gold


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Suzanna Alsayed discusses Dubai’s intelligent infrastructure, tourism and how culture and business intertwine.

On a recent trip to Dubai, I experienced the city for all the luxury and innovation it has to offer. The city of Dubai has grown to become one of the most recognisable destinations worldwide with its grand architecture, incredible skyline and giant malls – a truly excellent choice for a short getaway, with the best of shopping, fine dining and sporting events on offer.

The city is growing and modernising at a blistering speed, all while making special efforts to preserve its lavishing ideologies and cultural heritage.

Intelligent Buildings

As one of the most technologically advanced and fastest-growing cities in the Middle East, Dubai is a metropolis that welcomes big business and bustling tourism. As a result, it is the home of some of the tallest buildings in the world.

The architecture is elaborate and intelligent, incorporating ever-growing technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Yet, with so many technological advancements come more opportunities for bad actors to launch digital threats; these force professionals to stay ahead of the curve on issues of cybersecurity and risk assessment. Buildings like the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and the (new) Museum of the Future are renowned and recognised globally.

Bustling tourism

As a global city, Dubai is undoubtedly unique. On top of its impressive architecture, it was also home to Expo 2020, one of the world’s largest events. The pandemic-delayed event was a six-month, $7-billion extravaganza featuring pavilions from around the world showcasing architectural and technological innovation.

In addition to the city’s increasingly booming tourism industry, the exhibition attracted international crowds. Travelers of all kinds visited this modern oasis: Families, newlyweds, business moguls, entrepreneurs and more.

The presence of COVID-19 has forced cities and tourists to adapt. Issues of health, safety and security are top of mind for Dubai and this will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. 

During my time in Dubai and while visiting the Expo, I noticed a sense of heightened security (both overt and covert). As my first international trip during the pandemic, my safety and security were definitely at the top of my list of concerns. As a security professional and tourist, I can confidently say that I was able to enjoy myself worry-free. It was difficult not to be impressed by Dubai’s actions and protocols vis-a-vis tackling safety and security risks during such unprecedented times. COVID-19 mandates and requirements were strongly enforced across the city.

Some of the key safeguards I noticed during my stay included: Vaccine mandates in venues; Hotels and shopping malls; Strongly recommended and enforced COVID-19 testing; 24/7 rotation of security guards posted all over the city; Government security posted strategically throughout public areas; Cleaning protocols whereby suspected infection areas are immediately closed off to the public to be cleaned and disinfected.

Despite these stringent safety measures, the city reopened to visitors and tourists as early as August 2020 and has remained so ever since. 

Culture and business

The opportunities in Dubai (and the UAE as a whole) are endless. Their architectural advancements welcome new technology and encourage its development in a symbiotic manner.

The business culture is overwhelmingly innovative and open-minded. As certain security risks are elevated within various domains, security professionals and companies are identifying the UAE and the Middle East as a market offering numerous opportunities. Being a security professional in Canada, I was (and continue to be) impressed by how the security industry in Dubai and the UAE has flourished. In less than 80 years, Dubai has grown from a small fishing and pearl exporter in the Persian Gulf to the opulent metropolis and technology hub it is today.

Due to cultural differences, the way business is conducted in North America arguably may not be up to par with the requirements or experience needed to operate in the Middle East. This can also be said about the differences between Europe and Asia. For instance, in North America (even prior to COVID-19), we are more accustomed to conducting business through video/phone calls or emails. 

However, even though the Middle East is very tech-friendly, many business professionals still prefer to meet in person in order to assess comportment, respect and communication skills. In fact, this was one of the main reasons I travelled to Dubai in the first place – to ensure that my business relationships were adequately solidified by respecting the region’s cultural acumen.

In the Middle East, business culture focuses on networking and social engagement. Strong relationships and connections are crucial for success and fostering trust and creating strategic partnerships is extremely important.


The City of Gold is attracting young professionals and many other experts with its perks. There are now several security and innovation events being introduced to the region, some of which might become conference hubs in the future.

Dubai is focused on innovation, technological development and inclusivity. Hence, there is an opportunity for the security industry to make its mark on this city and grow its footprint one project and development at a time.

About the author

Suzanna Alsayed was named #2 in the IFSEC Global “Top Influencers in Security & Fire” 2020 “Commercial Security – Association Figures/Academics/Thought Leaders” category and awarded the 2021 Emerging Leader Award by Canadian Security. Suzanna is the Founder of holistic security firm Hilt International Security. She is also the Founder of the independent brand, design and web development agency Evolutz Inc. Evolutz was founded to elevate the security industry’s branding standards and help companies and professionals increase their ROI.

This article was originally published in the June edition of ISJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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