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Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman Poised To Lead Cybersecurity In Middle East

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman Poised To Lead Cybersecurity In Middle East

Report says Middle Eastern cybersecurity market projected to grow by 22 percent from 2016-2022

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are poised in the coming years to become leaders in the Middle East’s cybersecurity industry, analysts say. According to an extensive study conducted by Market Research Engine, the region’s cybersecurity market was set to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 percent from 2016-2022, with the security services industry reaching $34.37 billion by 2022.

“The [Gulf Cooperation Council] region has become the center point for cyber-attacks because of the region’s strategic and economic significance,” the report read in part. “The increase in cyber threats, digitalization initiatives, and investment in homeland security are driving the market.”

Market Research Engine, a global research and consulting organization, noted that cloud computing security, in particular, would be an important factor in this growth and pegged the expected revenue generated in this sphere at $20.20 billion by 2022. Cloud computing is when information is stored in a virtual network which can be accessed remotely from different computers.

Analysts at Ken Research, which earlier this month published a similar study, determined that the CAGR for the regional cybersecurity market will be roughly 20% from 2017-2022.

“The average number of virus-infected computers in the Middle East is more than four times the global average,” Namit Goel, head of Research and Operations at Ken Research, related to The Media Line.

According to Goel, 45-60% of computer networks in the Middle East are presently unprotected and for this reason cyber-attacks have already caused millions of dollars in damage to corporate and government systems. He quantified that cyber-crimes in the UAE increased by 136% between 2013 and 2015 and that authorities in the region were finally beginning to address the root problem.

“Cyber-attacks on state-owned companies like Saudi Aramco and Qatar National Bank were aimed at destabilizing the countries’ economies,” Goel stressed. “Hence, after these attacks the governments have taken the issue very seriously.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia are poised to be among the top 20 nations which undertake some activities to prevent cyber-[attacks]. Most of the other countries—including Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Cyprus—lack comprehensive regulations to counter cybersecurity issues.”

Peter Mawson, a publisher at SecurityMiddleEast.com, agrees with Goel that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are primed to lead the industry, but disputed the claim that Oman was lagging behind. In fact, he stressed that Muscat is maneuvering to become a regional economic driving force and that, to this end, has invested heavily in cybersecurity technologies over the past four years.

“In practice, I think [Oman] is doing just as much as [the Saudis and Emiratis],” Mawson conveyed to The Media Line. “Oman is doing an awful lot of work at the government level. They’re definitely looking to achieve that international recognition as the cyber safe-house for the Middle Eastern region.”

Mawson concurs that, in general, most Middle East countries are ill-prepared for cyber-attacks.

“I think there’s a naiveté across the region when it comes to all things cyber,” he said, before qualifying that the Middle East is beginning to catch up to the West. “The Emiratis, Dubai specifically, are almost leading the way in public surveillance by number of cameras and systems.”

The Market Research Engine and Ken Research findings come on the heels of a report that Israel recently transferred an estimated $250 million worth of advanced spy technologies to Saudi Arabia. According to the UAE news website Al-Khaleej, the two countries held covert meetings in Washington and London, which led to the deal. Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia have confirmed the report.

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