GISEC cybersecurity confab in Dubai could be big for Israel
An upcoming cybersecurity expo and conference is providing Israeli companies that are innovators and leaders in this emerging market to showcase their technology. It is billed as the most influential and connected cybersecurity event for the Arab world and also comes in the wake of high profile cyberattacks and incidents, such as the hacking of a Florida water treatment facility. Known as the Gulf Information and Security Expo and Conference (GISEC), the upcoming cybersecurity exhibition will take place from May 31 to June 2 and is organized with the most advanced cybersecurity figures in the UAE and will be attended by governments and companies from the Gulf and other global countries. George Giles, a co-founder of MEA Consulting which is playing a key role in bringing Israelis to the event, says that this is a historic moment. He describes the overall feeling of Israeli companies seeking partnerships and markets in the Gulf as a kind of “gold rush” like in the 19th century when people set off for the hills of western America. He has been going back and forth for years and was at GITEX where, along with Gil Kraiem of MEA, he brought Israeli start-ups. The Abraham Accords of last year have opened up a whole new world with these opportunities as Israeli companies can now do business publicly in an area they may have worked more quietly through subsidiaries in the past.
“Dubai has an image of parties and beaches like Tel Aviv or Las Vegas. When we saw it open up, my background and Gil’s were in marketing and public relations and a lot of businesses were looking to expand and do things,” Giles said. December showed the opportunities that exist but a lockdown and airport closure in Israel have slowed things down. Visa issues have also been a hurdle as a visa-free waiver was put off until the summer. Giles points to one issue that many Israelis have mentioned, after coming back from the UAE. While Israelis like to do things quickly, Emiratis want to grow the relationships lowly. “We see this existing demand and interest. There are a ton of things to be done between the countries: Start-ups and technology and people-to-people relations.” He pointed to the demand for staffing of educated people in hi-tech in the Gulf. Lacking a lot of locally trained people emerging from a Dubai-based version of MIT or the Technion means there is a lot of need for people with the skills created in the US, Israel or other countries. With investment growing, GISEC will be a key event this year. It comes after GITEX, the tech confab, last year and also IDEX, the big defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi in February, as well as Gulfood that also takes place in February. Giles pointed to emerging cybersecurity threats that affect even small businesses. “GISEC is well established and investors come and companies come, as well as officials,” he said. “Large companies from the US and Russia and Israeli companies via third parties were also there in the past, but now you can come as an Israeli and wear a kippah and do business.”With the event beginning on the last day in May, registration is already taking place. “We are doing the same thing we did at GITEX, we are working with Israeli companies that want to exhibit and want to have a booth and helping with marketing and public relations and doing interviews,” he said. He hopes many Israeli companies will come. GITEX was a sold out event and demand was high and Israelis scrambled to get there in only a few weeks. GISEC could be the same. “We are seeing that here, [GISEC] has early bird pricing up until this or next week to incentivize people, and even for non-cyber security companies it may be interesting to come and learn about the players and culture of the region, it is a good event to attend.”