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Arab News, Wed, Nov 15, 2023 | 1 Jumada, 1445 AH

​​Saudi Arabia in its way to lead cybersecurity landscape

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is making “leaps” across several global indices to position itself as a frontrunner in technology and cybersecurity on the global and regional level, a top Cisco official said.

Speaking to Arab News in an interview on the sidelines of the Black Hat MEA 2023, Salman Faqeeh, the managing director of Cisco Saudi Arabia, highlighted that the Kingdom is rapidly progressing, particularly in the telecommunication technology, information security, and cybersecurity sectors.

“We’ve all witnessed and seen several global indices highlighting how Saudi Arabia is making leaps when it comes to advancements and its position at a global and at a regional level,” Faqeeh said.

“We operate in a very dynamic market. We operate in a market that is leading the region in different aspects. Particularly, when it comes to telecommunications technology as well as information security and cybersecurity. It’s the biggest market and it’s the fastest to move in the right direction,” he added.

In line with regional advancements, the manager noted that Cisco recognizes this as an opportunity and is “very keen” to be relevant to the digital transformation agenda and the unfolding trends in the Saudi market.

The company has annually invested over $28 billion in research and development to keep up with the perpetual pace of growth and ensure its quality, according to Faqeeh.

The firm has positioned itself as a leader in honing the skills of young Saudis as it considers investing in human capital essential to its growth.

Through its networking academy, a global program that has existed for over 25 years and in Saudi Arabia for over 20 years, Cisco has been keen to highlight the learning and development journey of hundreds of thousands of Saudis throughout the program’s history, according to Faqeeh.

He further outlined that the company has contributed to the learning and development journey of more than 336,000 Saudis, of which about 38 percent are females. The top executive noted that this achievement is above the global average of the female workforce.

“The opportunity size is something that deserves the right attention, but at the same time, it’s a market, as I’ve mentioned earlier, that continues to grow. With the complexity that we’re seeing in the cybersecurity world with the introduction of the cloud, cybersecurity concerns, we always need to focus on the learning and development of the specialists,” Faqeeh said.

The firm recently unveiled its plans for creating a first-of-its-kind data center in the Kingdom, an announcement that the director noted is “planned to be up and running throughout or before the end of the calendar year of 2024. And we’re definitely keen to expedite.”

In recent months, the company has continued to take charge of the digital transformation agenda by outlining various new initiatives in the cyber sector.

Among them is the Secure Service Edge, a project the CEO said would help the company provide all the required security cloud services in the Kingdom locally. These include the net-zero trust offering, cloud firewalls, and solutions available on the cloud.

Net-zero trust is a system based on a preventative agenda that aims to ensure security in the cloud without interfering with the user’s experiences. The program will allow for the verification of identity before the individual is able to access any information.

Faqeeh further shed light on Cisco’s most recent acquisition of “Splunk,” a company that he deems “a very well respected security market leader,” noting that the group’s innovative edge will aid in enriching the Kingdom’s cybersecurity efforts.

“That is another confirmation of Cisco’s commitment to enriching its portfolio of cybersecurity and offering of providing meaningful solutions when it comes to observability and to continue the ongoing innovation journey, by such an acquisition of a very innovative company such as Splunk,” Faqeeh said.

“We’re committed to learning, and our contribution from that point of view, and we encourage the great talent of Saudis and people in Saudi Arabia to continue developing and contributing to aiding our national cybersecurity,” he concluded.


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