United Arab Emirates
Safety & Security

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

The safety and security sector has proven to be of utmost vitality within the UAE.  The UAE has a strong desire to maintain the nation’s status as a haven for security amidst regional instability.  Ambitious socioeconomic reform programs such as the UAE Vision 2021 continue to drive heavy investments in the sector.  Policies set out in Vision 2021 mandate vast infrastructure and technological developments which require a much larger supply of security services and products. Similarly, the $272.7 billion in infrastructure projects currently under construction in the UAE and rapid population growth (registered at 7.7 percent in Dubai alone 2018) will continue to drive growth in the security industry. 

Like in many other sectors, the market heavily relies upon imports and foreign security companies. This is largely because the UAE’s still minor domestic defense sector mostly focuses on military-grade products, giving foreign companies significant opportunities to supply the UAE’s safety and security sector. 

The UAE’s safety and security sector can be grouped into several main categories: Fire and Rescue, Safety and Health, Aviation Security, Homeland Security and Policing and Commercial and Information Security. 

Market Entry  >

There are no trade barriers against U.S. products.  Imported goods are subjected to five percent customs duties on CIF value. 

Competition  >

American firms have sizeable technological and qualitative advantages in outselling lower-quality competition. Competitors stem from Japan, South Korea, China, and the European Union in particular, and supplied products include: Smart Home Secure Network and Systems CCTV, Thermal Cameras, IP-based Voice Alarm Systems, IP-based Multi Sensor Cameras, Identity Management Systems, Video Surveillance and VMS, Security Patrol Robots, Radar Systems and Drone Systems. 

UAE Government Procurement  >

Various UAE Government entities contract with private sector vendors for the procurement of goods and services for public works.  The UAE is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.  Depending on the nature and scope of the work, government entities offer two types of tenders to select qualified vendor(s):

  • Public Tenders:  Procurement and contracting processes in public tenders involve four main steps: announcement of tenders, evaluation of proposals, awarding contracts, and supplying items or performing work.  Public tenders can be either global or local.  Global tenders are open to suppliers and contractors from within the country and abroad and are advertised in the local as well as international media; local tenders are restricted to all suppliers and contractors within the country and are advertised in the local media only.
  • Restricted Tenders:  For restricted tenders, calls for bids are sent only to suppliers and contractors (at least three) whose names are registered and are selected by the concerned entity.  Except for public advertising, all the rules and procedures pertaining to public tenders apply to restricted tenders. 
The concerned entity publishes a written invitation to tender in newspapers, magazines and its official website (in case of public tenders) or sends the invitation directly to a specific number of suppliers or contractors (in case of restricted tenders) in order to get detailed offers. 

To be qualified to work with any government entity in the UAE, contractors and suppliers must register with the concerned entity by submitting a completed pre-qualification application form to the procurement department.  Prior to that, they must have obtained all necessary licenses to practice the type of activity from the Department of Economic Development (DED), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry or any other competent authority in that Emirate.  They should also be adequately staffed with qualified technical personnel having the necessary skills, in addition to the availability of proper equipment, workshops, and warehouses. 

Since direct purchases from foreign suppliers are rare, it is important to work through a local agent/distributor that has the ability not only to supply/install goods but also provide proper and timely after-sales service. Therefore, selecting a local partner can be a critical first step in operating in the UAE.  A reputable agent with good contacts can provide timely information, which is often very important for foreign companies. In addition, in view of the increased importance of providing adequate after-sales service, choosing a competent agent who has the resources and ability to ‘qualify’ is of high importance.  Not only do the local agents provide knowledge of the market, they greatly assist in managing technological and cultural differences, while at the same time sharing local marketing and sales support tools. Leading Sub-Sectors for U.S. Exports> Security continues to be of paramount importance to the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; with the expansion of the UAE’s infrastructure and the private sector predicted to grow in the year ahead too, the Middle East’s safety and security sector is forecast to drastically expand.  The market is forecasted to more than double to $16 billion by 2024, with a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15 percent.  Moreover, the UAE’s large expatriate population, accounting for upwards if 85 percent of inhabitants, inextricably links the nation and its peoples’ safety to geopolitical and socioeconomic events globally, meaning the UAE continues to intensify security at airports, land routes, seaports and coastline patrols.
  • With the vast increase in infrastructure, real estate and petroleum projects, the UAE offers great potential for Security Management services; the need to protect major assets will result in greater demand for both digital and on-site security measures, particularly monitoring devices (e.g. thermal cameras, security patrol robots) and fire safety measures. Claims of attacks by the Houthis, for example, on the Abu Dhabi Airport, as well as repetitive statements about targeting the UAE’s infrastructure, indicate that major construction projects and sites of great importance are key targets for terrorist groups and those hostile towards the UAE. 
  • Similarly, Crisis Management and Incident Management preparedness based on software solutions is in demand, and the nation is increasingly relying on smart technology for security purposes due to its rapid pace of development.  Consequently, the boom in development and construction means human capital alone cannot ensure the safety levels desired by the UAE government, resulting in tremendous opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • The UAE’s market for security consultancy services is similarly expected to grow.  The growing origin of threats and diversity in form of attack against the UAE, as well as the growing intricacy with which security violations, occur pose unprecedented challenges for the nation.  Understanding the risks facing the UAE and implementing strategic solutions is of unprecedented importance and will give rise to a widening market for security consultancy services. 
  • With the growth witnessed in the infra-development sector, system integrations and security systems have gained high prominence in the region. The UAE market is rapidly absorbing old and new technologies in the system integrations sector.  Voice Alarm Systems, infrared and thermal cameras, security patrol robots and more are part of the high standard that residents demand and which the government wishes to maintain in the UAE.  These security products are used at commercial buildings, residential properties, shopping malls, hospitals, parks, museums, hotels, or industrial facilities, among others. 
  • The demand for various security products, especially unmanned vehicles, drones, closed circuit television sets (CCTV), surveillance cameras, perimeter control and access control systems has shot up sharply, with the hospitality sector leading the demand.
  • Commercial Security & Information Security:  It includes Cloud-based solutions, CCTV, Video Surveillance equipment (VSaaS), drone technology, internet security, anti-virus software, SPAM filters, Biometric Identification Systems, digital signature, data security/protection/recovery, system back-ups, software protection, and user right management are considered good prospects in the UAE’s ever growing surveillance sector.  The Middle East market for commercial security is forecasted to rise to $7.4 billion by 2024, 75 percent of which is video surveillance, 15 percent of which is access control and ten percent of which is intrusion detection.
  • Aviation Security:  The UAE Aviation Security Affairs consists of the following departments Air Navigation and Aerodrome (ANA), Airworthiness (AW), Flight Operation (FOP), Licensing (LIC) and Policy, Regulation and Planning (PRP) and reports directly to the Director General (DG).  The Head of Sector, Mr. Hamad Al Muhairi, oversees the regulation and oversight of the safety of the aviation industry in the UAE, while the wider Aviation Security Affairs Sector approves Aviation Security Programs for airports and aircraft operators, inspects and audits airports and maintains an aviation security intelligence network with domestic and international security authorities.
  • Homeland Security & Policing:  The growing internal security challenges in the Middle East have increased the importance of Homeland Security, and require innovative solutions to previously unseen issues.  The UAE’s law enforcement agencies have increased the budget for Homeland Security, and recently established Police Academies in different emirates to train Emirati police officers.  Revenue for homeland security products in the Middle East is forecasted to double by 2022 and reach $19.7 billion, with the UAE is the second largest share of this figure as it prepares for large events such as Dubai Expo 2020.
  • Fire & Rescue:  The UAE’s fire and rescue sector is expected to reach $699 million in the UAE by 2021.  The fire and rescue sector is estimated to grow annually by 14-16 percent, and the wider Middle East market is estimated to grow to $3 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 8 percent until then.  This is due to improvements in the enforcement of fire codes in the construction sector and constant need for fire protection and life safety.  Moreover, repeated fire incidents sparked a large fire safety promotion campaign and forced the Ministry of Interior to implement a centralized smart fire alarm system in its buildings, highlighting how demand is exponentially growing in the UAE.  The resulting regulations implemented by the government and greater demands for fire prevention by the public will also increase demand.  Similarly, the renewed investments in highest-quality commercial, retail, industrial, residential and government infrastructure projects will require equally reliable fire safety systems and products to protect lives. 
  • Safety & Health:  As the UAE’s construction industry continues to deliver multi-billion dollar projects, the health and safety regulations in the country are becoming increasingly stringent. There is an increased investment in more health and safety products such as jackets, shoes, helmets, and services to help ensure safety at work, and was evidenced at Intersec 2019 in Dubai, where 168 firms exhibited products related to Safety and Health; the third show selection at the fair.

Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Date:  January 19-21, 2020
Venue:  Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, Dubai
Website:  https://www.intersecexpo.com/frankfurt/51/for-exhibitors/for-exhibitors.aspx

ISS (Intelligence Support for Electronic Surveillance) World Middle East
Date:  March 9-11, 2020
Venue:  JW Marriott, Dubai, UAE
Website:  https://www.issworldtraining.com/ISS_MEA/

ISNR (International Exhibition for National Security & Resilience)
Date:  March 31-April 2, 2020
Venue:  Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, Abu Dhabi
Website:  https://www.isnrabudhabi.com/

Gulf Information Security Exhibition and Conference (Gisec)
Date:  March 30-April 1, 2020
Venue:  Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai
Website:  https://www.gisec.ae/

IDEX 2021
Date:  February 21-25, 2021
Venue:  Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, Abu Dhabi
Website:  https://www.idexuae.ae/

Additional Sources>

BMI Report:  Market Overview – Defence Market – United Arab Emirates – 2018
Intersec 2019:  Post-Show Report
UAE Government:  UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence