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Information Security, a never ending fear


Many of government and private entities in different domains are not worried much about topics such as information security and cyber crime. This might be because of the fear workers and supervisors in this field feel when they think of hackers and those who might threaten, destroy or manipulate data and secrets inside their fortresses.

This fear seems logical in light of hundreds of incidents that happen every day around the world where hackers behind computer screen reach anywhere in the world. Authorities and entities in different domains remain in a race to face these challenges. It is a never ending battle as long as its field is the spacious cyberspace that is open to all human beings.

It is no doubt that cyber crimes have become a reality of undesirable repercussions from personal moral and social damage and its destruction of societal trust among people, to destabilization of security and stability up to the threat to economies of large enterprises or even countries and the effect of that on the global economy. There is a direct relation between development in the computer field and the increasing numbers of cyber crimes.

Cyber crimes vary between physical crimes such as stealing ATM machines to email messages asking for help in releasing money confiscated in foreign countries with a promise of a percentage from the amount, to messages telling the email account holders that they have won prizes and asking for their bank account details. Another type has a cultural side where the criminal steals the intellectual property rights and ascribes them to himself without the victim’s consent. These crimes are added to the political, economic and sexual crimes that spread extremism and looseness across the World Wide Web.

It is no doubt that the technological advancements in the UAE have affirmed the need to set laws to combat these crimes and safeguard against the manipulation of privacies or taking advantages of others’ physical or  intellectual  rights.

His Highness SheikhKhalifa bin Zayed Al NahyanPresident of the UAE, issued a federal law regarding the combat of cyber crimes including many articles which offer legal protection for the privacy of what is published on the World Wide Web.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of the Executive Council, issued a decision regarding information security in Dubai Government aiming at developing an integrated strategy and a unified policy for information security and its systems related to the local government of the emirate.

One of the efforts that in the same direction is the international conferences hosted by the UAE, which gather key figures in cyber protection worldwide to exchange views and study ways to develop mechanisms that achieve top levels of information security, including the expected Gulf Information Security Expo & Conference that will be held in Dubai from 3 – 5 June 2013. It will be the largest event, in this regard, in the region.

However, we must highlight an important factor related to this kind of crimes that is self-awareness and raising one’s personal carefulness when using the Internet and other modern technologies. We all should have a degree of security culture that is enough to limit the access for those who want to reach secrets or important data that will harm their owners. In many cases, this only requires paying attention when adding sensitive information, using a more complicated password, using anti-virus programs and encrypting the most sensitive files. We should also refrain from making important financial transactions through public networks because they’re easy to hack. Extra precaution should be given when we reveal our electronic identities and personal information which should be used on trusted websites only.

Promising E-government


The UAE in particular and the Arab Gulf Region in general are two of the fastest markets in terms of adoption of modern technologies, considering that the sophisticated electronic infrastructure in the UAE is one of the most important tools for enhancing its economic competitiveness worldwide. This evolution reflects an official interest in adopting the latest information and communication technologies towards upgrading government performance in an unprecedented manner, achieving co-operation among government and private entities and providing pioneering government services and other products via the different means of communication such as  the Internet and mobile phone. Based on the prudent leadership’s awareness of the importance of the modern electronic technology, which is one of the most important features of change in the 21stcentury, and the associated media information flows that will play a role in forming the public and private natures of the region, the UAE government started the electronic transformation of government services in 2001 by the Ministry of Finance launching the e-Dirham as an alternative to the conventional method used for collecting fees for government services. Since then, the e-transformation process is going at a rapid pace at the level of both the federal ministries and authorities and the local authorities in each emirate.

The above is compatible with the UAE Vision 2021 and the federal e-government plan 2012-2014, which is partly aimed at improving the competitiveness of the UAE by adopting world-class practices in all e-government areas, while its mission stipulates the establishment of an “innovative eGovernment, committed to contributing towards enhancing the competitiveness of the UAE, and providing world-class multi-channel services that are based on customer needs and expectations through a coherent and efficient government; taking advantage of an advanced digital infrastructure and highly qualified human resources within a smart and intelligent framework of governance.”

It is no exaggeration to say the UAE has made great strides in using technology in the field of government work and this has motivated it to seek technological and organizational readiness and secure an environment that supports the spread of information and communication technology such as the current laws and regulations and the provision of trained, qualified and skillful human resources as well as businesses that support the building of a knowledge-based economy.

Perhaps the success of the Emirates Identity Authority in completing the UAE population register at the beginning of this year, registering all citizens and residents in the smart ID card project and owning the world’s largest database of integrated civil biometrics as per the World Record Academy is the best testament to the level of progress that the UAE has achieved in this area, particularly that this achievement will contribute actively to enhancing the national and individual security in the UAE, supporting strategic decision-making and developing our government services at the same time.

In addition, such mega-projects help the community take part in improving government services and decision-makers to know customers, views and preferences.

The outputs of this government interest include preparing an integrated plan to carry out the “mobile government” project, which is aimed at providing all the services offered by the federal authorities and organizations to customers via the different kinds of smart phones and is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year for provision in 2014 in the light of the leadership’s directives to adopt the best international practices in the field of e-transformation.

Language and Identity


No one can deny, in theory, the importance of language and its role in maintaining the identity of the community as well as its heritage and civilized and humanitarian history. Talking about our Arabic language, the practical application of this vision remains a far-reaching dream in many cases, especially at the level of decision-makers and leaders.

What His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said that “Our language is our identity, a symbol of our pride, our civilization and Arab and Islamic culture” urges everyone to shoulder their historical responsibility from the national and humanitarian perspectives and illuminates their way towards the empowerment of the national language because “to empower and to protect the Arabic language means we are protecting our identity, our history and our culture”, as confirmed by HH Sheikh Mohammed.

This is not a call from an ordinary intellectual, nor is it a wish of anyone who is concerned with the culture of his nation and the language of his faith. It is an attitude and an instruction from the top leadership positions and decision-making centers, making it live up to the level of a national strategy that must be followed and implemented.

The call is concurrent with the second International Conference on Arabic Language, which was held in Dubai over the past few days under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, who was keen on attending some sessions of the conference.

Language is wealth and a weapon of high effect in the battle of progress and civilized evolution in which languages ​​and cultures compete in various ways to the extent of struggling sometimes. This made a leader as the former French President General de Gaulle says: “French language did what armies could not do.”

Competition among states and nations in this area is well-known and proven. Perhaps the most important successes achieved by the Israelis in implementing their Zionist projects lay in the fact that they paid special attention to Hebrew, though it had been an almost dead language for centuries and was spoken only by a few millions of Jews and not all Jews. They, however, worked hard to revive Hebrew and make it the language of learning and knowledge and the tongue of politics and practical life. The same applies to many other peoples such as the Japanese, Koreans and others, who look at their national languages as ​​fortunes that they are keen to protect more than any other wealth they own.

Based on this, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid’s kind call came to put the Arabic language in the right place it deserves. The call will undoubtedly bear fruit for the achievement of the desired goals and objectives.

Passport and family book


If I am to list the strategic projects that have been recently implemented in the UAE based on their importance, I will undoubtedly choose the national ID card as one of these projects because of the long-term plans for this project and the great benefit that will be reaped by everybody, whether UAE residents or government and private companies and agencies.

Finally and thanks to a data chip that contains all the important information about you, you will no longer have to feel extreme stress while you are visiting the municipality and carrying your family book for fear that this important document might be lost. Nor will you have to make sure that the document called “passport” is still valid in case of need to visit a bank to open a savings account for your son, for instance. It is a huge and significant project that allows me to be keen on carrying a single card in my wallet, because it will save me the trouble of carrying and keeping the rest of important documents. It is also a tool in the hands of the e-government to develop the work system and provide a better and easier service to the customers of some entities which is still managed with the mentality of the 1970s.

Yet, it is surprising that although five years have elapsed since this significant project was implemented, the ultimate goal of the project has not been achieved so far. More surprisingly, some government entities and affiliated companies are the last to support this vital project and seem as if they insist on signing out of tune for a mysterious reason that I do not know, while supporting and actually implementing this project should top their priorities for the simple reason of ensuring that the private sector will be committed to implement the project later on. We know of course that the private sector will not do this if this project has not been actually implemented by the government sector at both the federal and local levels.

I still carry my family book in all my visits to the municipality and still need my passport to renew my Thiqa health insurance card and obtain electricity services. I even need both my passport and ID card to get a resident parking permit in Abu Dhabi City! What is the logic behind all this? For how long will some entities keep away from playing their presumable role in supporting the UAE strategic projects?

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