February 21, 2016

UAE Security Forum 2016: Bridging the Cybersecurity Talent Gap

AGSIW President Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba (far left), Sharief Fahmy of Middle East General Enterprises, Lydia Kostopoulos of Khalifa University, and Chris Davis of Raytheon discuss cybersecurity preparedness.

Bridging the Cybersecurity Talent Gap: A Scene Setter for UAESF 2016

More than a hundred leaders from across government, academia, and the private sector gathered for the inaugural UAE Security Forum on February 21 at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. The forum brought focus to a key topic of global and national security: cybersecurity and the gap that exists in talent needed to maintain sensitive information and critical infrastructure secure.

The event was organized and hosted by AGSIW to help focus on the current state of cybersecurity in the United Arab Emirates and the need to broaden the cyber workforce. Raytheon, a global technology and cybersecurity firm, sponsored the forum as part of its global efforts to help develop professionals to meet the challenges of this dynamic domain.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UAE Marcelle M. Wahba, president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said the forum allowed for “an incredible amount of important subject matter to be discussed in just one day… Serious cybersecurity measures are vital to national and global security in the 21st century. We have taken some very productive steps today through the UAE Security Forum, and the institute looks forward to continuing this work with Raytheon and its partners.”

“The success of the UAE Security Forum provides the perfect launching point for Raytheon’s week of cyber educational engagement in the Emirates,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information, and Services. “This diverse and talented group of people came together to focus on cybersecurity and the development of expertise to meet the global security challenges in this crucial domain.”


The forum was covered extensively in several media outlets, including The National.

One of the forum’s highlights was the workshop session “Creating a 21st Century Cyber Workforce.” Moderated by Lydia Kostopoulos, assistant professor at Khalifa University, the session drew on a diverse panel of participants. Experts from the government, private sector, and academia explored how the UAE can leverage its resources and partnerships to build a sustainable talent pool of cybersecurity specialists.

Attendees also heard from John C. Inglis, former deputy director of the U.S. National Security Agency, as he delivered an insightful keynote speech. As a leading expert with more than three decades of experience in cybersecurity, Inglis helped forum attendees better understand current cyber threats and emerging measures to counter them.

The forum’s final session drew on the assembled expertise of attendees to develop an action plan for development of cybersecurity professionals in the UAE.

“Raytheon’s longstanding partnership with the UAE covers a wide range of security issues,” said Chris Davis, Raytheon’s business executive in the UAE. “The intent is to use our deep expertise in cybersecurity to help the Emirates meet its Vision 2030 objectives.”



Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba: President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington

Christopher Davis: Country Leader/President, Raytheon International, United Arab Emirates

Dr. Tod A. Laursen: President, Khalifa University


Eman Al Awadhi: Manager, Security Compliance Operations, du

Michael Daly: Chief Technology Officer, Raytheon Cybersecurity

Dr. Ernesto Damiani: Professor and Director, Information Security Research Center, Khalifa University

Paul Rogers: General Manager of Industrial Cybersecurity, GE

Sharief Fahmy (Moderator): CEO, Middle East General Enterprises


John C. (Chris) Inglis: Venture Partner, Paladin Capital Group, Former Deputy Director, U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)


Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba: President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington

Sharief Fahmy: CEO, Middle East General Enterprises

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos: Assistant Professor, Institute of International and Civil Security, Khalifa University

Christopher Davis: Country Leader/President, Raytheon International, United Arab Emirates