Cybersecurity, Vision 2030 take center stage as Intersec KSA concludes

Intersec Saudi Arabia, the annual three-day exhibition for the country’s fire and emergency, security, and safety sectors, wrapped up on Thursday with key leaders mapping out a future in which security – both real and cyber – must be a constant, central focus if the Kingdom is to meets its Vision 2030 goals.

Running from September 13-15, thousands of industry professionals, decision-makers, and thought-leaders gathered at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre for knowledge sharing, networking, and product showcases. This year’s event, the fourth edition, featured more than 150 exhibitors from 20 countries.

Under the theme “Discover, Source, Learn,” an action-packed opening day explored the role of talent development, integrated intelligence, and securing real world mega events, before Day Two heard from Ed Sleiman, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Sleiman delivered a keynote speech detailing the evolving responsibilities of a CISO.

Discussing Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Strategy, one of the Kingdom’s 2030 vision priorities, Sleiman emphasised the significance of enhancing internal and external systems within businesses, especially in a post-pandemic world. “Even outside of a crisis,” he said, “there are many challenges”.

Sleiman said: “Politics is usually very important to know as a CISO in terms of how to manoeuvre – you need to know how to speak the language of the business, as well as the language of your technical team. You need to be the go-between, translating for these two stakeholders because while your team will understand vulnerabilities, threats, viruses, and malware, the management team – especially senior management – does not. They understand security only from the perspective of risk.”

Day Two also featured three discussion panels on various cybersecurity-related topics. The first addressed the fact that Saudi is leading the Middle East in cybersecurity, the second addressed building cyber resilience to secure the Kingdom, and the closing session focused on escalating cybersecurity risks in healthcare while moving from cybersecurity to cyber resilience to transform Saudi into a global leader.

Dr Sultan Al Tukhaim, general manager of cybersecurity and data governance, communications, and IT commission for Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is “one of the world’s most prominent targets of cybercrime because it is an energy-rich country with a digitally active population, located at the heart of the global energy market”.

Dr Faisal Abdulaziz Alfouzan. assistant professor in cybersecurity and networks, and director of cybersecurity, added that “moving from cybersecurity to cyber resilience will require cybersecurity experts, national regulations, and standards, while also accelerating digital transformation and establishing critical infrastructures across a host of sectors.”

Richard Burns, chairman of ISS, a global leader in video management and video analytics software and an exhibitor at Intersec, said he had been left impressed by the fourth edition of the event, which featured brand and product launches, presentations and demonstrations, workshop sessions with industry leaders, and much more.

“The exhibition has been very satisfying and the traffic impressive,” he said. “We have had the chance to meet key leaders advancing the IT industry in KSA at great pace.”

The final day delivered a pivot back to real world security, with Lieutenant Colonel Osama Salim Al-Awfi, General Directorate of Civil Defence, providing a keynote speech on emergency responses and adapting security services for the tourist season at Al’Ula. Later in the day, a panel discussed the role of leadership in supporting the implementation of standards towards Vision 2030, with representatives of the National Fire Protection Association, Crash Training Institute, and the Saudi Standards, Metrology, and Quality Organisation, among others, sharing their insights.

Intersec Saudi Arabia is organised by Saudi-based Al-Harithy Company for Exhibitions (ACE) Group under licence from UAE-headquartered Messe Frankfurt Middle East, which organises Intersec, the world’s leading exhibition for security, safety, and fire protection.

Intersec Saudi Arabia is held in participation with Saudi Civil Defense, together with the industry at large.