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Key verticals that will drive Middle East security growth in 2021

Key verticals that will drive Middle East security growth in 2021
The Middle East security market had a tough 2020 due to COVID. Yet this year, things look brighter. In this note we identify certain key verticals that are expected to drive growth in Middle East security in 2021.
The Middle East security market had a tough 2020 due to COVID. Yet this year, things look brighter. In this note we identify certain key verticals that are expected to drive growth in Middle East security in 2021.


With economic activities returning to normal and certain upcoming events in the pipeline, the region’s hospitality and leisure industries are expected to receive a boost which will trigger demand for security.
“The Abraham Peace Accords with Israel are encouraging. This normalization of relations is set to increase UAE tourism and business travel with a plan in place for 112 weekly flights, and Etihad already launching a Hebrew website. Dubai 2020 is rescheduled to open on Oct. 1 which will attract business and leisure travelers across the world, while the return of the tradeshow Gitex also due to take place in October is signaling further positive recovery in the tech sector. The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) believes its target of attracting 100 million annual visitors by 2030 remains realistic, boosted by diversification and reform at new beach resorts,” said Joon Jun, President of Global Business Division at IDIS. “At the same time, Abu Dhabi is also rapidly diversifying and heavily investing in its hospitality and leisure sector. New projects include the mega Yas Island development, the Al Qana waterfront resort, the region’s largest aquarium, the world’s largest snow park and a raft of new luxury hotels.”


Retail in the Middle East has been hard hit by COVID-19 and is in the process of recovering and reopening, which requires various pandemic solutions, from thermal imagers to people counting, to control the spread of the disease. “With the economic recovery, we believe that the retail industry will have more opportunities because of the needs of the retail industry to transform in the post-epidemic era,” said Binson Xu, President of MENA at Hikvision.
Meanwhile, same as their counterparts in other parts of the world, physical retailers in the Middle East are facing competitive pressures from online retailers and are therefore in need of security solutions for both security and business intelligence purposes.
“The sector was already facing increased competition from e-commerce giants and changing consumer habits. Fighting back, retailers are already adopting more flexible video surveillance to reduce shrinkage, deter and detect theft, to ensure consistent customer service across branches and to enhance protection for both staff and customers. Centralized monitoring can deliver the cost efficiencies of more streamlined operations, with remote management via mobile devices, while AI-powered analytics provide the ability to better identify and quickly respond to incidents, and use metadata to speed up investigations,” Jun said. “There’s an equally powerful case for Middle East mall operators to use video analytics in their efforts to attract retailer brands. The ability to demonstrate that a shopping mall has the right footfall, the right profile of customer, and uses video data analysis to understand customer behavior, manage staffing levels and optimize services, offers malls a real advantage and supports that increasingly important return on experience.”

Smart City/law enforcement

Government spending remains high to keep the region secure as well as make cities smarter in smart city initiatives. “Government spending was still high on homeland security prioritizing borders, military bases and critical national infrastructure,” said Mark Horton, VP of Bandweaver Technology.
“There are many smart city initiatives across the Middle East, whether existing cities ‘turning smart’ or building of whole new cities. These initiatives were somewhat stalled due to impact of COVID, but expected to regain momentum in 2021,” said Itsik Kattan, CEO of Agent VI.
Security aside, COVID prevention and control has also become a major objective for border control. “We've seen some case studies in China where the country has gotten the pandemic under control, but as the country gradually reopens, COVID-19 cases flew in which caused some cities and provinces to close down immediately. Many other countries will have a much different experience, as some will be forced to reopen prematurely, which may cause the somewhat under control pandemic to get out of hand again and again. Border control most likely will have to increase their COVID-19 testing, contact tracing capabilities and stream line their process or authorities to take emergency measures when the situation demands,” said Bing Wan, Director of Middle East Operations at Rasilient, a U.S.-based server and storage solutions provider.


While the COVID infection rate in the Middle East isn’t quite as high compared to other parts of the world, it is still significant. Healthcare, therefore, has become a key sector where providers need security solutions not only to screen people but also to conduct contact tracing. “This is probably the most obvious vertical. People infected with COVID will need to be tracked, monitored, and those who come into contacts with the patients will also be tracked and monitored. Healthcare providers who come into contacts with patients do go home at the end of the shift. Even with layers of PPE, they are at high risks of getting exposure,” Wan said.


Finally, Middle East’s higher education sector is seeing investment from leading global institutions. This is expected to draw more international students. “Since Dubai changed the law to allow for 100 percent foreign investor ownership of companies outside free zones, and 10-year residency visa options, foreign investment in the sector has increased,” Jun said.
This, then, also calls for advanced security solutions for security and disease-control purposes. “Teenagers and college students who remained closely in touch with friends and classmates have and will become harder to control their exposure to the virus. Many still strongly believe they are healthy and even if they caught the virus, they will get out of it without major health impact. This may or may not be entirely true as all sorts of statistics are out there, however, people in this age group may become the main contributors of spreading the virus to other family members. Schools must strengthen their early detection and contact tracing capabilities,” Wan said.

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