Gulf women in cybersecurity continue to lead the charge in addressing skills gap in the region

Ipsos in Jordan & Iraq and UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship address cybersecurity skills shortages across the GCC to ensure the region can achieve digital resilience.

The author(s)

  • Abdullah Ghosheh Research Executive - BHT/CRE
  • Abdelkader Farhat Senior Research Manager
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The UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship are delighted to launch the second phase of their research into addressing cybersecurity skills shortages across the GCC to ensure the region can achieve digital resilience.


The report provides a detailed picture of the current state of the sector and highlights the key approaches needed to enhance national efforts to address the gaps, particularly by prioritizing skills training and developing capacity building programs. 


The report specifically highlights the challenges currently facing cybersecurity decision-makers, chief among them is leadership and cyber governance; the key findings from the report include:


1. Organizations should centralize cyber security functions and governance to ensure integration across the wider business and incentivize a collaborative and inclusive approach to cybersecurity. 
2. Organizations need to move from a reactive to proactive approach to strengthening cybersecurity and invest in a longer-term strategy for cybersecurity career pathways and development that support organizational needs and respond to market demands.
3. The skills shortage can be split into three categories: transferable soft skills, foundational technical skills, and specialized technical skills.
4. To encourage more women (and diversity, generally) into the cyber security workforce, support mechanisms and frameworks need to be put in place and should include mentorship, sponsorship, training, and exposure. 
Participants in the survey, which was administered by Ipsos, were 150 professionals with varying levels of responsibility from four sectors of the economy across the GCC—Telecommunications, Banking & Financial Services, Insurance, Oil & Gas.


Nasser AlAssad, Managing Director of Ipsos in Jordan & Iraq, believes that it is vitally important to instigate a whole of an organization’s approach to cybersecurity starting with the right leadership and structure of governance.
“Leadership, in any structure, is an imperative function of success. We can see from the findings that the right leadership and governance will lead to the development of informed long-term strategies that focus on the development of training frameworks and training programmes to enable people to become market ready and for organizations to become more resilient” Mr. Nasser said.


This phase of the report follows on from an initial qualitative survey that identified the need for further research to solidify the challenges and approaches required in the region.
From the findings of that report, the Sultanate of Oman actioned a nationwide Cyber Safe Competition, which sought to ascertain the technical competencies of youth in the areas where skills gaps exist. 


Wafa’ Nimri, PGI’s General Manger for the Levant, who heads the UK-Gulf Women in Cyber Fellowship Secretariat is passionate about taking tangible steps towards narrowing the skills gap and believes the approaches don’t need to be theoretical.


“The Cyber Safe Competition was a great success, not just because it provided a better understanding of current situation, but it showed that there are many ways to solve this problem while engaging with the up-and-coming cohort of cyber security professionals, who are the future of the industry,” Ms. Nimri said.

The author(s)

  • Abdullah Ghosheh Research Executive - BHT/CRE
  • Abdelkader Farhat Senior Research Manager