Ranked 27th among the countries most committed to cyber security [1], Qatar is seeking to assert its place on the international stage thanks to an ambitious strategy, an increasingly developed cooperation and a cyber culture permeating all levels of society. Yet the country faces a number of challenges, not least in consolidating its cyber security market...

Adapting to reality and developing a market 

The figures are striking. In Qatar, around 5.1 million internal and external cyber-attacks and 45,000 intrusion attempts have been thwarted ‘in recent times’ [2], says Dr Salem al-Naemi, President of Doha University of Science and Technology, without giving any further details. The sheer volume of cyber-attacks that we have to deal with is compounded by new challenges, such as the emergence of AI, which raises concerns about the professionalisation of cyber-attacks. So what is the solution? The creation, in 2021, of the National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA), a government agency tasked with guiding the country's cyber strategy. The national strategy is clear: it is based on strong corporate governance of cyber issues, strengthening the cyber workforce, implementing international cooperation and building cyber security capacity. The aim is to cultivate a cyber-resilient ecosystem capable of dealing with cyber threats and enabling business continuity. Innovation and research are two key pillars of this strategy. The latter also calls for increased investment in the cyber sector to develop the market at a national level, given that the region's market volumes for cyber security are much higher than those in Doha. In the United Arab Emirates, the market is expected to reach $756 million by 2028, $635 million in Saudi Arabia and $197 million in Bahrain. In Qatar, the revenues from cyber security are expected to reach nearly $182 million by 2028. [3]


Strengthening cooperation 

In order to establish itself and continue to develop a resilient ecosystem in the face of cyber attacks, cooperation is important, if not essential to Qatar. “We believe that effective cooperation with competent partners and service providers along with subject matter experience can contribute to prosperity and in shaping the future of cybersecurity and all related fields, considering the paramount importance of cooperation between industry leaders and experts and government entities” [4],  emphasised Khalid Al Hashemi, Director of National Cybersecurity Excellence and Enablement Affairs at the NCSA. Cooperations are also cross-border. Qatar and Rwanda recently joined forces to collaborate on improving public key infrastructure and supporting research and development in the field of artificial intelligence. “This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to promoting innovation and technological advancement on both local and international levels”, said Mohammed bin Ali bin Mohammed Al Mannai, Qatari Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “This partnership aims to strengthen synergy for mutual growth and development, fostering knowledge and resource exchange in various key areas of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector” [5] he adds. Doha is also moving closer to the United States, the undisputed cyber power. Last February, a meeting between the US Department of Homeland Security's Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy and Planning and the Chairman of the NCSA focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation and the means to achieve it. The authorities' commitment to cooperation is reflected in their relations with Interpol. Also last February, Doha was involved in the identification of some 1,300 suspect IP addresses or URLs, leading to the arrest of 31.[6]


Raising awareness

“We believe in importance of enabling people to face cyber threats by implementing community cybersecurity awareness workshops and expanding our reach to include cybersecurity education curricula for schools”, Khalid Al Hashem said. Awareness-raising and e-learning are the two main pillars of Qatar's cyber strategy. In terms of cyber training, the Emirate obviously wants to recruit a massive workforce, but also to develop specific programmes for business leaders and university students. “This will enable us to apply a world-class structure to all cybersecurity-related research and development activities”, the Chairman of the NCSA continues. With the aim of imparting a cyberculture to all sections of society and to every citizen, the authorities are banking on young people. The NCSA has made available a curriculum for teaching cyber security, which is currently being developed in 170 public schools and is set to be extended to State schools. The project is targeted at children from the first year of primary school to the third year of secondary school. Dalal Al Aqidi, Director of the National Department of Cyber Excellence at NCSA, explains: “This project is in line with the preventive cyber security strategy adopted by the National Cyber Security Agency as the most effective working method for improving digital security indicators in the country”. [7]


[1] https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/04/06/2024/qatars-investments-in-cybersecurity-furthers-its-ranking-expert

[2] https://www.gulf-times.com/article/675291/qatar/qatar-thwarted-large-number-of-cyberattacks-udst-president

[3] https://www.statista.com/outlook/tmo/cybersecurity/qatar#global-comparison

[4] https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/22/02/2024/qatar-committed-to-boost-cybersecurity

[5] https://www.darkreading.com/ics-ot-security/qatar-rwanda-partner-to-boost-cybersecurity-in-africa

[6] https://www.interpol.int/fr/Actualites-et-evenements/Actualites/2024/Une-operation-menee-par-INTERPOL-cible-les-cybermenaces-en-constante-progression

[7] https://ncsa.gov.qa/ar/media-center/ncsa-implement-educational-cybersecurity-curricula-170-private-schools