The Middle East is beginning to appreciate the importance of homeland security in new ways, and the United Arab Emirates appears to be at the forefront. With whatâ€™s being billed as the Middle East’s first event focused exclusively on homeland security, Abu Dhabi will host a conference on protecting national borders, building disaster resilience, and countering international terrorism next month.
Entitled â€œInternational Security / National Resilience,â€ the gathering takes place March 2-5, 2008, at Abu Dhabi and is sponsored by HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, along with the UAE Ministry of Interior. ISNR Abu Dhabi follows ISNR London, which was held 4-5 December 2007.
Last year the UAE President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan created a new government agency charged with protecting vital facilities and utilities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. With critical infrastructure that includes onshore and offshore petroleum facilities, power generation stations, water desalination plants, a natural gas transportation network, airports, seaports, and service networks, its no wonder they see the value in their own version of a DHS. However, since all of this infrastructure is owned by the emirate, theyâ€™ll likely have an easier go of it than DHS, which must navigate a domain of critical infrastructure owned almost entirely by the private sector.
Promoters of ISNR Abu Dhabi explain that the gathering will provide a comprehensive look at homeland security issues to enable â€œgovernmental authorities to respond resiliently to natural disasters as well as man-made ones.â€ This is just the sort of opportunity the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should capitalize on by sending delegates armed with speeches and presentations that explain the way we perceive the threat, the lessons weâ€™ve learned, and the interest we have in supporting their efforts in a partnership against a threat that requires cooperation in order to be combated.
This blog has written before about the opportunities â€“ some missed â€“ for sharing our expertise in homeland security to benefit reluctant friends overseas. We have a shared interest in protecting our civilians. And the U.S. could really use some friends nowadays in that region.