Bassant Hassib / James Shires
Dr. Hassib is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, The British University in Egypt, and a consultant for the Atlantic Council. Dr. Shires is an assistant professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University, and a fellow at the Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Atlantic Council.
While the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are not alone in their increasing exposure to the negative side effects of greater digital dependency, their status as technological leaders—not just in the region, but also in the world—means that they are vulnerable to a variety of cybersecurity threats. This article examines the trajectory of cybersecurity in the GCC states, exploring the main threats, the role of the GCC states in regional and international governance mechanisms, and the tensions between steps to achieve a more secure digital space on the one hand, and the privacy and human-rights risks of widespread surveillance on the other. The article argues that cybersecurity in the GCC follows a clear trajectory: beginning with economic drivers for securing a digital economy, cybersecurity organizations and policies then become entangled in geopolitical controversies, from the sale of surveillance technologies to superpower rivalry over AI and 5G communications.
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