Top officials during the GCC Cybersecurity Ministerial Committee meeting.
Dr Mohammed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cybersecurity for the UAE Government, participated in the first meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Cybersecurity Ministerial Committee, which was held at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat General in Riyadh.
During the meeting, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia, the ministerial committee discussed work papers presented by GCC countries, which aim at enhancing cooperation in cybersecurity fields at the GCC level through several initiatives concerned with developing the cybersecurity sector.
In his speech before the meeting, Dr. Al Kuwaiti highlighted the significance of this meeting, which represents a new start to enhance Gulf and regional cooperation and integration and support national efforts in the field of cybersecurity in light of the rapid technological developments and geopolitical challenges the world is witnessing nowadays.
Dr. Al Kuwaiti put forward some proposals and initiatives that could promote joint Gulf action in cybersecurity; including establishing a cybersecurity centre for the GCC countries, providing a clear vision for identifying cyber threats, supporting opportunities to adopt a multi-level methodology to respond to cyber challenges, and enhancing the benefit of GCC countries from the development of the innovative digital business environment.
Heads of cybersecurity institutions also discussed several issues of mutual interest in cybersecurity, including implementing joint cybersecurity exercises in GCC countries to enhance the exchange of cybersecurity information and expertise and contribute to developing the cybersecurity sector.
The GCC Ministerial Committee for Cybersecurity’s first meeting in Riyadh was chaired by NCA’s Majed bin Mohammad Al-Mazyed, and was attended by a number of the GCC senior officials.
The meeting discussed topics related to the common aspects of cooperation between the GCC states in cybersecurity, including developing frameworks, policies, and joint procedures to address cyber threats.
It also discussed aligning efforts among the GCC states in various sectors, raising the level of international cooperation with countries and relevant organisations, and promoting and developing the cybersecurity industry in the GCC countries.
It sought to exchange knowledge, experiences, and studies related to cybersecurity to create a safe cyberspace environment to protect the GCC countries from cyber threats.
During this meeting, the first Gulf cybersecurity exercise was launched to enhance communication and information sharing among the GCC states.
It saw exchange of experiences between national cadres specialised in cybersecurity, raising the level of cyber readiness to confront cyber threats and finding innovative solutions to meet cyber challenges and threats.
Meanwhile under the supervision of the Central Bank of the UAE, the UAE Banks Federation organised the largest simulated cyberattack in the Middle East, in order to support the Central Bank’s efforts in enhancing cybersecurity through best practices and advanced systems while ensuring the stability and flexibility of the financial system in the country.
The workshop aims to enhance the financial sector’s readiness against cyberattacks, by presenting realistic scenarios that allow participants to know the fraud techniques and methods used by the entities that carry out these attacks and the factors that represent a source of threats.
A number of senior officials and cybersecurity experts from banks and Licensed Financial Institutions (LFIs) participated in the workshop, in addition to representatives from central banks across Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abu Dhabi Digital Authority, Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police, and Dubai centre for Electronic Security, who participated as observers.
Dr Mohammed Hamad Al-Kuwaiti, Chairman of the UAE Government’s Cyber Security Council, said: “Cybersecurity is witnessing great progress in the UAE, making it one of the leading countries in this field; as the National Cybersecurity Strategy aims to strengthen and create an integrated system by implementing numerous initiatives, evaluating the results, and developing them in line with the global changes.”
He added, “We are keen to provide a secure and robust cyber environment that enables institutions and businesses to develop and grow in a secure and prosperous environment. To this end, it is important to develop the necessary infrastructure and frameworks to protect institutions and individuals from cyberattacks, as well as to establish the principles of governance related to cyber security. Organising a simulated cyberattack workshop is one of the important initiatives that are appreciated as it provides professionals in the banking and financial sector with the necessary capabilities to discover areas of strength and areas that need to be further developed in order to enhance the digital transformation of the sector, which has witnessed many achievements to consolidate the leading position of the UAE.”