ISJ Leaders in Security Conference

Industry leaders gather for inaugural Dubai conference

On 25th May 2022, 276 senior security professionals from across the globe gathered for the inaugural ISJ Leaders in Security conference at The Grosvenor Hotel, Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE.

The conference undoubtedly lived up to its name as leaders from every corner of this innovative regional hub of modern security gathered under one roof to discuss some of the key issues shaping the industry.

After opening addresses from Ian Stokes, CEO, Centurian Media and John Cowling, Conference Chair, delegates had the pleasure of hearing a keynote address from H.E. Khalifa Ibrahim Al Saleis, CEO of the Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA) which focused on the historical origins of SIRA and how the security sector has evolved within the Emirate of Dubai.

Following these insightful introductions and blessings, Yacine Benamane, Security Manager, Unilever, North Africa & Middle East chaired the opening panel, ‘Re-Calibrating the Supply Chain’, which saw Dr. Wilson Esangbedo, National President, ALPSPN, Matt Horrox, Director, Continuity Strategy and Sorana Parvulescu, Partner, Control Risks come together to explore how business leaders can collaborate with one another and ensure that the supply chain is stabilised and futureproofed in light of geopolitical tensions and logistical issues.

Throughout the rest of the day, Phillip Antoniou, VP Sales EMEA, MOBOTIX, Mo Ahddoud, CEO, Chameleon Cyber Consultants and Amit Mehta, Cyber Security Advisory Practice Lead, Mastercard explored ‘Cyber Security and Data Management’ whilst ‘Critical Infrastructure’ was the focus of discussion for William Brown, Director, Control Risks, Andy Edwards, Vice President, GardaWorld International Protective Services, Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, Commandant General – Nigeria, Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Wadih Abi Hader, Sales Director EMEA, Astrophysics.

Howard Leedham MBE (Panel Chair), Managing Director of ESID DMCC, Tim Purpura, VP Global Sales & Marketing, Morse Watchmans, Simon Whitehouse, Managing Director, SGW Consulting, Mo Ahddoud and Issam Shibany, Head of PreSales and Business Development Middle East and Africa, MVP Tech chatted with one another on the ‘Taking an Integrated Approach to Security’ panel and ‘The Constant Need for Upgrades – If It Isn’t Broken, Why Fix It?’ panel saw Chris Adigwu, National Secretary, ALPSPN and Simon Whitehouse, Managing Director, SGW Consulting take to the stage.

Furthermore, ‘Cloud Technology & Cloud-Based Solutions’ was discussed by Alexander Holmstrom, Global Sales Director, ACRE International, Elias Bechara, Managing Director, 6SS and Dr. Daniel Omofoman, Technical Associate, ALPSPN. Leedham also chaired the ‘Hospitality and Retail Security’ panel which featured Vitthal Teli, Cluster Security Manager Hyatt Place Hotels in Dubai & Hyatt Centric Jumeirah, Mark Shepherd, Risk & Security, Associate Manager, MAF Properties and Tim Purpura. 

In addition to the engaging panel discussions, there were multiple thought-led presentations from speakers with fascinating regional insight and expertise. Ahmad Younes, Sales Director Middle East & Africa, MOBOTIX – Platinum Partners for the ISJ Leaders in Security conference – gave a TED-Talk style presentation, ‘Global standardization and type approval importance of security systems’ was discussed by Eng. Col. Arif Al Janahi, Security Engineering Director, SIRA and Joss D’Silva, Vice President, Emirates Group Security focussed on central control and aviation security.

There was also a presentation from Yacine Benamane which posed the question, ‘What Standards do you need to Succeed in Security?’, an analysis of ‘Private & Public Partnerships’ from Jose M Gonzalez, Assistant Regional Security Officer, US Consulate General Dubai as well as a ‘Regional Roundup’ from Matthew Burnard, Director, Control Risks which explored the Middle East threat landscape.

At the end of the conference, the International Security Journal team caught up with Phillip Antoniou, VP Sales EMEA, MOBOTIX who said: “It has been a great event here. Not only have we met partners, we have met new acquaintances and colleagues in the industry. The panel discussions have been innovative, strategic and have shone a light on parts of the industry that are not always watched.”

“An outstanding day,” added Tim Purpura, VP Global Sales & Marketing, Morse Watchmans. “I have attended a lot of shows over the last six months – and this ranks right up there as one of the best. The quality of people in attendance was outstanding, truly the leaders of the industry in the Middle East. I cannot wait for next year!”

Andy Edwards, Vice President, GardaWorld International Protective Services, remarked: “I received the kind invitation to attend this conference and play a part in the panel discussion – I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been a great mix of industry professionals from both government and private sectors alike and there have been fantastic opportunities to network amongst them. Really looking forward to the next one.”

Keep an eye on the International Security Journal page for a full review of the ISJ Leaders in Security conference and follow the LinkedIn page to see all the action from the day, as it happened.

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Exclusive: Are you valued by your organisation?

Peter French MBE and Andrew Hudson of SSR Personnel reflect on the findings of the company’s Middle East security salary survey.

The Middle East and in particular the Gulf countries have endured high economic turbulence, not just since the outbreak of COVID, but since the fall out of the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. 2021 was a year of recovery and strategic reform for most countries. Those in the security sector have risen to the challenges and a general perception is that there will be great opportunities during 2022. Vacancies have increased for qualified risk and resilience professionals. Cybersecurity practitioners remain in high demand, with 70% of companies surveyed intending to recruit these roles in the next 12 months.

Headlines from our surveys

The increase in remote working has led to the need to implement up-to-date business continuity plans. Many businesses found that, during the pandemic, their plans were weak or outdated. A high proportion will prioritise their cybersecurity strategy, migrate to enterprise data storage and invest in systems upgrades in processes and hardware.

With the shift to work from home across many countries, companies have highlighted the importance of cybersecurity and making it a strategic priority. Many companies in the region have accelerated the adoption of cloud infrastructure, increasing the demand for physical security.

Kaspersky reported there were 161 million Malware attacks across the Middle East in the first half of 2021. Turkey and Egypt suffering the largest number of attacks at 44 million and 42 million respectively.

2021 has seen steady growth in employment across the Gulf as vaccine rollout has been successful, borders have reopened and businesses rebound and aim to grow. Governments are working hard and fast to ensure that they have sufficient employment opportunities for their nationals.

Physical security professionals are increasingly being asked to be part of the cybersecurity solution. Over 90% of those questioned quoted that cyber preparedness was now part of their role. Over 55% of respondents had received an increase in basic pay or bonuses. In 2022, most expect to have salary increases above inflation.  

As one Chief Security Officer recently told us: “My role as the CSO has been enhanced; my team have even more respect. We are part of a holistic approach to our employee care.”

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Human Resources said that new entrants to the job market who had not previously worked had reached over 200,000 over two years. To support local employment, increasing numbers of professions such as accountants, pharmacists and engineers have been localised.

As part of its ‘Projects at 50’ programme, the UAE government announced plans to increase Emirati employment in the private sector, including a US$6.53 billion budget to facilitate 75,000 Emiratis into private sector jobs. This included several incentives to UAE citizens to work in the private sector, like a salary top-up, child support payments and financial grants to start a business. Also offered to government employees was the opportunity to take a sabbatical on 50% of their salary to start their own business. Many countries are seeking to reverse the preference of nationals to work in the public sector.

Gender parity

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the share of women in professional and technical jobs is set to more than double by 2030 through digitisation, online platforms and entrepreneurship.

The UAE was ranked 1st across the Arab countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. They are the most-improved country in the world for women in parliament and over 23,000 businesses are run by Emirati women with a combined worth of approximately US$50 billion.

The Emirates Ministry of State for Advanced Sciences has revealed that women are 80% of the science team behind the current Mars mission.

Saudi Vision 2030 aims to create over one million jobs for women. In 2020, the Saudi female labour force participation was around a third of the working population. By decree, women cannot be discriminated against based on their gender when it comes to private sector salaries.

Digitisation will likely have a high impact across all sectors and occupations, driving exponential growth in the demand for tech skills up to 2030 and creating new job opportunities for tech-educated women. Female graduates are well represented in Science, Technology, Environmental and Mathematics (STEM) areas at university. While this is a higher ratio than in the West, the picture is very different after graduation. With positive encouragement, this should reverse by 2025.

Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) rankings

Investors in western markets are using ESG rankings for companies to better inform them on the direction of a business for its employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. While not yet fully understood by the high street consumer, the pandemic has sharpened thinking towards climate change and communities where our actions could adversely affect them. Employers will need to attract that future workforce by showing how compelling their ESG offering is. This was the direction of travel of employment before the pandemic but has now been accelerated. As a global organisation, the C-suite will want assurances that wherever their operations exist, policies will be consistent and not cause embarrassment – a polarising East v West dichotomy.  


The SSR Personnel & Executive Profiles 2021 annual salary survey partners with ASIS International. Data is collated from more than 12,000 security professionals from across 40 business sectors including finance & insurance, manufacturing, extractives, e-commerce, FMCG and logistics. We also populated with data collected during our bespoke salary surveys which covered 1.3 million employees and EURO 1.2 trillion revenues.

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This article was originally published in the January 2022 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here.


SANS Institute announces training program to boost cybersecurity skills

SANS Institute has announced the SANS Dubai February 2022 training program, to be held from 12-17 February, 2022 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront. The interactive event, led by renowned cybersecurity practitioners, aims to equip participants with the knowledge required to protect organisations against security breaches and build practical skills that can be put into immediate effect.

A vast majority of organisations in the United Arab Emirates have shifted to using cloud for their business needs with the acceleration of remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this surge in hybrid workforces, it is essential that organisations invest in higher security measures to be put in place to prevent business disruption via cyber-threats and ensure that the steps they take are in compliance with industry standards and regulations.

“The best way to ensure protection is from within and the greatest defence comes from having an informed workforce,” states Ned Baltagi, Managing Director, Middle East and Africa at SANS Institute. “Investing in training programs and upskilling current employees is vital in the fight against cybercrime as it ensures proactive incident-response from a trusted team, rather than relying on external parties to protect your business.

“The digital world as we know it continues to change every day. Cloud platforms have changed how data is stored and accessed and teams need to have calculated strategies in place to secure their critical information in line with these changes,” Baltagi adds.

The course content spans how to effectively locate, identify and collect data from wherever it stored on cloud environments; develop and apply a framework based on actual threats to stop attacks in line with requirements documented by the Center for Internet Security (CIS), as well as those defined by NIST SP 800-171 and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC); and ultimately, conclude with an accelerated review course that is specifically designed to prepare students to successfully pass the CISSP exam. Students can partake in three immersion-style courses.

The instructors leading the modules are industry experts Joshua Lemon for FOR509: Enterprise Cloud Forensics and Incident Response; Chris Christianson for SEC 566: Implementing and Auditing CIS Critical Controls; and David R. Miller for MGT414: SANS Training Program for CISSP Certification.

SANS Dubai February 2022 will be held between 8AM to 7PM, Gulf Standard Time.

SANS Institute’s mission to deliver the most relevant and cutting-edge cybersecurity information and resources to protect people and assets alike is recognised worldwide and fulfilled in the highly developed and strategic skills students are able to implement as soon as they complete their training.

By registering for SANS Dubai February 2022, participants further benefit from the opportunity to connect and network with like-minded security professionals across the region, garnering insights into similar career and organisational challenges they face. Moreover, participants are eligible to enter the NetWars tournament, a range of interactive learning scenarios that give them the opportunity to master real-world skills in isolated environments that are safe from risks. They will also have access to the upcoming SANS Summits, a platform that brings together cybersecurity practitioners and leading experts to share and discuss case studies, lessons learned, new tools and innovative strategies.

SANS Institute will be hosting another cybersecurity training event in the GCC region, with SANS Secure Middle East 2022 to follow in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March 2022.  

More information on SANS Dubai February 2022 can be found here.

Jaegar 225

Silent Sentinel to provide thermal imaging cameras for North African airports

British threat detection specialist Silent Sentinel has been awarded contracts to supply its long-range thermal imaging cameras to provide protection for two major North African airports.

Silent Sentinel will be providing nine of its Jaegar Ranger 225 Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR) thermal platforms to one airport, all equipped with a 500mm HD low-light camera. The Jaegar 225 provides reliable human detection at over 4km, with camera positioning accuracy levels of 0.0002° and absolute feedback and automatic self-position correction. This contract is the second phase of an existing project utilising cooled cameras.

Silent Sentinel was selected by their local partner to provide the popular Jaegar Ranger 225 platform because it could meet the same operational requirements as the existing MWIR cooled platforms for a lower cost. Because uncooled cameras don’t require expensive cooler services the client was also able to benefit from a lower cost of ownership, as well as reducing the requirements of holding spares to maintain continuous operation of the surveillance system.

The other airport will be protected with ten Aeron Scout cameras, four of which are fitted with 100mm fixed lenses and six with 65mm fixed lenses. The Aeron Scouts will be complemented by four Oculus Scouts equipped with 50mm fixed lenses to create a total of 14 cameras protecting the second airport, all of which are LWIR uncooled thermal lenses and are equipped with HD visible cameras.

The Jaegar, Aeron and Oculus cameras are contained within a hard anodised ruggedised housing which, like all Silent Sentinel products, is tested to an IP-67 level of environmental protection, providing optimum performance in the harshest environments. This means that the cameras are perfectly suited to the extreme conditions of the desert, capable of operating within a temperature range of -30°C to 65°C.

Silent Sentinel is a well-established provider of surveillance and security systems, specialising in both cooled and uncooled long-range thermal camera platforms, with products already exported to over 55 countries worldwide.

James Longcroft, Sales Director at Silent Sentinel said: “We are pleased to have been awarded these contracts, which prove that our best-in-class uncooled thermal cameras are more than capable of meeting the demanding requirements of operating in such an extreme environment whilst keeping costs down for the customer. These contracts have allowed us to consolidate our position in the North African market and are indicative of our pedigree in the aviation surveillance sector.”

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Moro Hub Axis

Moro Hub signs partnership agreement with Axis Communications

Moro Hub (Data Hub Integrated Solutions LLC), subsidiary of Digital DEWA, the digital arm of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), signed an agreement with Axis Communications – a Swedish company that offers video surveillance solutions, access control solutions, audio solutions and intercom.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Mohammad bin Sulaiman, CEO of Moro Hub and Ettiene Van Der Watt, Regional Director, Middle East and Africa, Axis Communications.

With this new partnership, Moro Hub will now offer government and enterprise clients across varied verticals, including transport, utilities and energy, healthcare, retail and financials, its turnkey Integrated Physical Security Platform (IPSP). This partnership is part of Moro Hub’s effort to accelerate its drive to promote Integrated Physical Security in the UAE and GCC.

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Tenable announces agreement to acquire Cymptom

Tenable Holdings, Inc. has announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Cymptom, a provider of attack path management.

Headline breaches, be they advanced persistent threats, ransomware or common hacks, routinely exploit well known attack paths in enterprise networks. Identifying, understanding and disrupting these attack paths before attackers can exploit them is critical to reducing the probability of a breach. Cymptom enables organisations to continuously test and evaluate threats according to the MITRE ATT&CK framework and the hacker’s attack perspective, without the use of agents or running simulated attacks. Combining Tenable’s coverage of vulnerabilities and misconfigurations with Cymptom’s unique attack path analysis and prioritisation capabilities will enable security teams to pre-emptively focus response ahead of and during attacks.

“Risk prioritisation has become a cornerstone of modern cybersecurity. By correlating software vulnerabilities and misconfigurations with network and access data, Cymptom can immediately identify exploitable attack and breach pathways,” said Nico Popp, Chief Product Officer, Tenable. “Following closing of the deal, these compelling analytics will be integrated into Tenable.ep, Tenable’s Exposure Platform and augment the prioritisation, benchmarking, trending and other capabilities which are part of Lumin and available via Tenable.ep.”

After closing, Cymptom’s agentless platform will be integrated into Tenable’s threat and vulnerability data to provide an always-on view of every attack path. Attack path analysis will bring additional context and prioritisation capabilities to Tenable’s platform, with a unified view of assets and vulnerabilities. Cymptom was founded in 2019 and is led by Israeli Defense Force veterans and white hat hackers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed and the acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.                             

“Cymptom and Tenable share a common vision that modern vulnerability management combined with a deep and sophisticated understanding of attackers’ perspectives is a powerful weapon in stopping breaches and reducing risk to the enterprise. Tenable helps its customers identify the flaws attackers will exploit to gain a foothold and elevate privileges. Cymptom’s capabilities will augment Tenable’s ability to predict the most likely paths, identify choke points and mitigate flaws before they can be exploited,” said Itamar Mizrahi, CEO, Cymptom. “We are excited to accelerate our mission and eager to work with Tenable’s global team.”


PIF-backed Saudi digital security firm Elm set to raise $818m in IPO

Saudi Arabian digital security firm Elm, owned by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, is set to raise 3.07 billion riyals ($818 million) after pricing its initial public offering at the top of its indicative price range.

They provide secure e-business services and information technology, as well as project support services and government project outsourcing in Saudi Arabia.

Elm on Sunday priced the deal at 128 riyals a share, against an indicative price of 113 to 128 riyals per share. It is selling 24 million shares in the deal or 30% of its share capital. Saudi Arabia has had a surge in IPOs since it listed oil giant Saudi Aramco in a record $29.4 billion listing in 2019.

Saudi Arabia is also encouraging more family-owned companies to list in a bid to deepen its capital markets under a reform push aimed at cutting the kingdom’s reliance on oil revenues.

The sale of Elm’s stake by the $480 billion Public Investment Fund is another move by the fund to monetise some of its assets through the equity capital market. In December, it raised $3.2 billion through the sale of a 6% stake in Saudi Telecom in a secondary share offering.

The country’s bourse operator Tadawul, which is also partly owned by the PIF, listed last year in a $1.01 billion IPO.

Tadawul said in December 2021 it had 50 applications from companies for IPOs this year and is considering whether to allow blank-cheque companies, known as SPACs, to list.

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