Local talent can drive GCC's cyber security industry
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Local talent can drive GCC’s cyber security industry

Local talent can drive GCC’s cyber security industry

Cyber security companies are now looking to develop talent locally


The Gulf Cooperation Council has the potential to develop its own cyber security industry rather than rely on international talent, according to two leading executives.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Abu Dhabi, the president of RSA Security, Amit Yoran, told Gulf Business that the advent of smart cities – an innovation being spearheaded by Dubai in particular – provides the opportunity to lead in knowledge development.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the region’s ability to cultivate and grow its own talent,” he said.

“When you look at smart cities and the initiatives that are being undertaken in the region, it’s not like there’s a tremendous body of knowledge that exists in the US or elsewhere as to what that looks like.

“So I think there is an opportunity to cultivate and grow cyber security expertise in areas where it doesn’t exist elsewhere.”

Among the cyber security companies looking to develop local talent is UAE-based DarkMatter, which aims to identify potential employees from a young age and develop them in-house alongside experienced international experts.

The company’s CEO, Faisal Al Bannai, told Gulf Business: “One of the things that we want to do is launch a number of initiatives where we’re partnering with universities to say ‘your students that are in this space – we are interested. If that guy is getting this score and is studying in this space, then I have a job for him’.

“They can come into a high technology industry and develop next to very strong guys in the space of cutting edge technology.”

Another aspect of DarkMatter’s hiring process, explains Al Bannai, is to help students in the UAE understand the career possibilities attached to certain academic studies.

He said: “We would interview a student that is fantastic in math, who did his undergrad in math and something else, and we would tell him ‘we would like you to do masters in math, then PhD in math, are you interested?’

“Normally the default setting for a UAE student with that comment is ‘I don’t want to be a math teacher – why am I taking a PhD in math?’ Because in his mind the career path of a masters and PhD in math is a math teacher.

“But now when you study math you could come to our crypto stream, you could come to our data science stream, you could come into our whatever stream and be part of the organisation. Suddenly you create the interlock.”

Al Bannai also believes that the UAE is ready to take the lead in innovation and in the knowledge industry, adding that the success and growing reputation of companies such as DarkMatter will create momentum.

“It will start creating a pipeline of people who say ‘there’s a good job, there’s an interesting space’.

“And frankly, these guys could join DarkMatter today but tomorrow they might start other companies, and through that we will have industries getting created in this space.

“We definitely want to play a role in that, being a company based in the UAE, but also me personally being an individual from the UAE that really wants to contribute to the vision story in the regard of jumpstarting the cycle.”


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