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IDC Predicts ICT Expenditure in Saudi Arabia to Exceed $34.5 Billion This Year



Saudi Arabia is propelling itself into a new era of digital innovation. Fueled by an influx of foreign direct investment and a colossal $7 trillion development plan for giga projects, ICT spending in the Kingdom is projected to soar beyond $34.5 billion this year. That’s according to the latest forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), with the global technology research, consulting, and events firm predicting particularly strong compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) for software (11.4%) and IT services (8.7%) over the 2022–2026 period.

The government sector is spearheading IT spending in the Kingdom in 2023, with substantial investments being made in the areas of AI, IoT, cybersecurity, and big data analytics — the critical building blocks of an ‘Experience Economy’. The key sectors of finance, communications, energy and resources, and manufacturing will be the next biggest spenders in 2023; however, the healthcare, finance, retail/wholesale, professional services, and education sectors are expected to see the fastest rates of growth over the next five years.

The upcoming IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2023, which takes place at the Fairmont Riyadh on September 13-14, will explore these developments and much more as it plays host to the Kingdom’s most influential IT and telecom leaders, digital government pioneers, regulators, and industry thought leaders. “Saudi Arabia’s trailblazing transformation journey is a testament to the Kingdom’s visionary leaders and their unwavering commitment to building a resilient digital economy,” says Hamza Naqshbandi, IDC’s associate vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. “Guided by their ambition, Saudi CIOs now stand as the architects of tomorrow and will be pivotal in shaping an era where digital prowess empowers a nation’s aspirations. The IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2023 will celebrate the Kingdom’s remarkable evolution, providing a unique platform where collaboration, knowledge sharing, and technological innovation converge to lay the foundations for a future unbounded by limitations.”

Addressing the theme ‘Enabling the Digital Economy’s Leaders’, the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2023, will explore the current digital landscape and evaluate its pervasive impact on citizens, customers, employees, and operations. There will also be a special guest appearance from Raha Moharrak, who carved her name in history as both the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits. Her achievements align perfectly with the spirit of transformation that drives the summit, and her presence will inspire attendees to reach new heights in their own digital journeys.

The agenda will incorporate a series of fascinating presentations, dedicated CIO-led panel sessions, and technology focus groups addressing a diverse range of topics such as:

  • Strategies for Developing a Digitally Resilient Organization
  • Envisioning the Future Intelligent Enterprise
  • Shaping CISO Strategies for the Digital-First Organization
  • Data- and Platform-Led Strategies for Realizing Digital Outcomes
  • Digital Trust, Identity, and Security Strategies for the Digital-First Organization
  • Talent Development and the Demand for New Skills: Optimizing Team Structure
  • Sustainable Strategies and Technologies: Operationalization, Impact Measurability, Business Value Creation
  • Vendor Selection and Management: Best Practices and What to Look Out For
  • Cyber Protection for the Threats of Today, and Tomorrow: Dynamic Security Strategies to Minimize Risk
  • Connecting the Distributed Cloud: From the Edge to the Core
  • Enabling the Data-Driven Enterprise
  • Transitioning Through AI and Analytics: Winning in the Intelligent Economy

The event will also feature exclusive insights from IDC’s CIO Advisory Council for Saudi Arabia, whose members include some of the region’s most respected ICT leaders and experts, including:

  • Eng. Naif A. Sheshah, Assistant Deputy Governor for Planning & Development and CDO, Communications, Space & Technology Commission (CST)
  • Yousef Alsuhaibani, CIO, Mobily
  • Sundah Alsehali, CIO, Ministry of Defense
  • Eng. Ghada Albugami, CIO and Presidential Advisor for Digital Transformation, Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University
  • Abdulaziz Abanmi, COO, Saudi Payments
  • Khaled Alhazmi, CIO, Saudi Airlines
  • Jason Roos, CIO, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
  • Yasser Al Yousuf, Assistant Deputy Minister, CISO, CRO, and CDO, Ministry of Justice
  • Bandar Al Shahrani, Head of Digital & Innovation, PIF Projects, Public Investment Fund

Cyber Security

CyberKnight Elevates Cyber Resilience with Zero Trust Security at Gartner SRM 2024



CyberKnight has announced its participation as a Premier Sponsor at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit in Dubai on February 12-13. The company’s participation underscores its commitment to advancing cybersecurity practices and fostering awareness around the critical paradigm of Zero Trust. During the Summit, CyberKnight will emphasize the significance of adopting a comprehensive Zero Trust Security approach in tackling cybersecurity challenges faced by IT security leaders.

At the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit, CyberKnight will be joined by:

  • Checkmarx: Industry’s Most Comprehensive AppSec Platform
  • Xage: Identity-Based ZTNA for Critical Infrastructure
  • Group-IB: Fraud Detection, ASM, DRP, Threat Intelligence & DFIR

“Our Theme for this year’s participation at Gartner SRM is “Elevating Cyber Resilience with Zero Trust Security”. In the face of escalating cyber threats, our Zero Trust Security approach stands as a beacon, guiding organizations toward a robust cybersecurity posture. Our Zero Trust Security methodology is more than a framework; it’s a transformative journey towards resilience: we believe in empowering businesses with the knowledge and tools needed to proactively defend against the ever-evolving threat landscape,” commented Avinash Advani, the Founder and CEO at CyberKnight.

“As a trusted advisor to enterprise and government organizations across the region, CyberKnight remains committed to contributing to the growth of regional cybersecurity capacity and resilience. Sponsoring Gartner SRM, one of the most reputable IT Security events in the Middle East covering key topics that matter most to security leaders, is not just an opportunity to showcase our innovations but also a commitment to collaborative efforts aimed at building a more secure digital ecosystem in the Middle East,” added Olesya Pavlova, CMO at CyberKnight.

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Dubai Police Crowned Champions of UAE SWAT Challenge 2024



In an exhilarating display of skill, strategy, and teamwork, Dubai Police SWAT teams clinched the top two spots in the highly competitive UAE SWAT Challenge 2024. This prestigious event, held annually in Dubai, attracts elite SWAT teams worldwide, all vying for the coveted title in gruelling tests designed to push their limits.

The Dubai Police’s unparalleled performance throughout the five-day event reflected their rigorous training, dedication, and commitment to excellence.

Day 5 – (the Obstacle Challenge) Winners
First Place: RNP SWAT Team 1- Rwanda
Score: 52 points
Time: 03:54.08

Second Place: Department of Special Force KALKAN – Kyrgyzstan
Score: 51 points
Time: 03:59.08

Third Place: Uzbekistan Police – Uzbekistan
Score: 50
Time: 04:04.03

Top Three Overall Winners of the UAE SWAT Challenge 2024

First Place– With a remarkable score of 325 points, Team B displayed exceptional prowess across all categories, including hostage rescue, tactical shooting, and obstacle navigation, earning them the championship title.

Second Place-Close on their heels, Dubai Police Team A amassed 303 points, demonstrating extraordinary teamwork and strategic thinking, securing a well-deserved second place.

Third place –Team SARDAR from Kazakhstan came in third, scoring 302 points, showcasing impressive skills and determination, and proving themselves to be formidable competitors in the international arena.

Honouring the Champions
Their remarkable achievements were celebrated in a grand honouring ceremony, where His Excellency Major General Abdullah Ali Al Ghaithi, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Operations Affairs at Dubai Police, in the presence of senior officers, UAE SWAT Challenge’s sponsors, partners, and a global audience awarded the top ten winners their well-deserved trophies and accolades.

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International Defense Heads to be Present at the Second Edition of World Defense Show



As the countdown begins to its second edition in February, World Defense Show, under the esteemed patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has revealed some of the industry titans and senior government figures who will address the show’s visitors and exhibitors over four days. WDS 2024, which will be held between 4-8 Feb 2024, in Riyadh, KSA, will host the exclusive Future Defense Leadership Forum on Preview Day, followed by four days of exciting interactive industry discussion and demonstration in the main conference room and across dedicated content theatres, in three of the exhibition halls.

The Future Defense Leadership Forum at the World Defense Show 2024 will commence with an address by HE Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, Governor of the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI). This exclusive event, attended by high-level government and private sector delegates from the global defense industry, is set to delve into national policy, technology, and innovation, offering insights into both Saudi and global perspectives on defense and security challenges over the next decade. The forum will feature a series of compelling keynote addresses, including ‘Enhancing KSA’s Investment Ecosystem’ by HE. Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment, and a discussion on ‘Defense/Force Readiness by HE. General Fayyadh Al Ruwaili, Chief of the General Staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. Additionally, HE. Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman of SAMI, will address ‘Security and Stability in the New Saudi Era,’ underscoring the importance of innovation and adaptation in defense technology.

The forum will also host pivotal panel discussions, ‘The People Challenge: Attracting, Upskilling and Retaining the Right Talent for the Defense sector’ will bring together HE. Prof. Haluk GÖRGÜN, President of the Defence Industry Agency (SSB), Turkey; Eng. Walid Abukhaled, CEO of SAMI; Sulaiman Albabtain, CEO & Chairman of SOFON Industries; and Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA. Another significant panel, ‘Innovating at the Speed of Relevance: Managing the Defense Technology Challenge,’ will feature HE. Dr. Faleh AlSulaiman, Governor of GADD; Dr Charles Woodburn, CEO of BAE Systems; Stephanie C. Hill, President of Rotary & Mission Systems at Lockheed Martin; and Pierre Éric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group.

Innovation is a strong theme of the Day 2 program which hosts key industry figures, such as, – Rob Merriweather Technology Director, BAE Systems and Chris Brown, Vice President Strategy & Global Business Development, General Dynamics, leading a panel on achieving innovation goals across the industry, while Tim Cahill, President, Missiles and Fire Control, Lockheed Martin will discuss exploiting innovation across the battlespace. General (Retd) Tom Middendorp, Chairman, International Military Council on Climate and Security, Former Chief of Defense of The Netherlands will deliver a keynote on environmental sustainability in the defense industry.  Nichola Bates, Managing Partner at Aerospace Xelerated and Head of Global Accelerators and Innovation Programs, Boeing will provide insight on Defense Innovation Units to foster collaboration with startups.

Technology development steps into the spotlight on Day 3, with Major Gen (Rtd) Adam Findlay, Former Commander Special Operations addressing civilian-military technology development and cooperation and Sir Stu Atha, Director of Training Strategy, BAE Systems providing insight on the future of human-machine interface and Stephanie Hill, President, Rotary and Mission Systems, Lockheed Martin discussing transforming aerospace and defense for the 21st Century.

Building on the huge success of the program in 2022, the International Women in Defense program returns, spearheaded by HRH Ambassador Reema, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States. The event will also feature Heidi Grant, Vice President of Defense Global Growth & Engagement at Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) who will be joined by national diversity champions and industry figureheads including Maj. Gen. Adel Al-Balawi, Head of Armed Forces Education and Training Authority, KSA.

On Day 5, the Future Talent program will recognize the importance of nurturing and developing the next generation of defense professionals. The session will be opened with a keynote address by HE Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, Minister of Education, setting the stage for insightful discussions on the future of human capital in defense. Dr. Alex Walmsley, defense analyst and RUSI Associate Fellow, will moderate a high-level panel on ‘The Human Capital Growth Model for Defense.’ Additionally, the program will feature a presentation on ‘The People Challenge: An Industrial Perspective’ by Jason Monahan, VP & General Manager, General Dynamics, offering valuable insights into workforce development from an industry standpoint.

Andrew Pearcey, CEO World Defense Show, said, “We are delighted to confirm an exciting program of industry-leading international and regional speakers, who will address visitors and exhibitors in people, technology and capability-focused discussions. World Defense Show is not just an exhibition of groundbreaking technology, the event offers a chance for the leaders in the field of defense to convene for the shared purpose of addressing the challenges facing the industry and the world. WDS’s role as an enabler of global collaboration will extend beyond the event itself, providing a platform for countries to engage in international cooperation.”

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