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MENA Watch: Discussing the future of cybersecurity in the region

Businesses may suffer serious financial and reputational losses as a result of cyberattacks, which has boosted demand for cybersecurity solutions to defend against them

At a predicted CAGR of 10.2% during the forecast period, the Middle East and Africa cybersecurity market size will increase from USD 22.2 billion in 2023 to USD 36.2 billion by 2028.

The increasing use of cybersecurity products and services in response to an increase in cyberattacks, the expansion of eCommerce and digital payment options, and the rising demand for digital transformation projects are all factors propelling market growth.

However, it is anticipated that inadequate regulatory frameworks and poor spending on cybersecurity will impede market expansion.

The Increasing Demand For Cybersecurity

Various cyber dangers and attacks have recently targeted the Middle East and Africa regions. State-sponsored organizations, cybercriminals, or hacktivists frequently carry out these threats and attacks to undermine the political and economic stability of the area. Due to the increased digitalization of the region’s economy and enterprises, cyberattacks have increased in frequency and sophistication.

Businesses may suffer serious financial and reputational losses as a result of these attacks, which has boosted demand for cybersecurity solutions to defend against them. According to a Trend Micro analysis, the financial sector was the industry most frequently attacked in the Middle East and Africa area between Q1 and Q2 of 2021, with cybercrime rising by 23% overall.

The Middle East and Africa had a 56% increase in data breaches in 2021 compared to 2020, according to a report by Cybersecurity Insiders. This emphasizes how important it is for organizations and institutions to invest in cybersecurity solutions to safeguard sensitive data.

In the Middle East, data breaches cause an average loss of USD 6.53 million per business, which is much more than the global average loss of USD 3.86 million, according to a report by the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security.

In the Middle East in 2020, approximately 2.57 million phishing assaults were discovered between April and June of 2023, according to The National News.

The UAE is reportedly the second-most targeted nation for cybercrime, according to The Gulf News. Attacks in the nation are thought to cost USD 1.4 billion annually.

In 2020, the UAE had a 250% surge in cyberattacks, with ransomware and phishing events occurring more often.

Understanding The Problems

The MENA region’s cybersecurity market faces serious problems due to a lack of understanding. Due to their low funding, many companies in the Middle East and Africa region are frequently unable to invest in cybersecurity measures. They might not be knowledgeable about the most recent dangers and weaknesses in the cyber ecosystem as a result.

In this part of the world, many enterprises do not prioritize cybersecurity. They might place greater emphasis on other parts of their company, such as sales growth, and fail to recognize the potential harm that a cyberattack could do. Lack of awareness may result from a lack of cybersecurity education and training in the region. Many firms might not be aware of the possible dangers linked to their IT systems and might lack the expertise needed to put appropriate cybersecurity measures in place.

Sometimes cultural considerations may be a factor in people not being aware of cybersecurity. Because of worries about their reputation and the potential for loss of trust, some businesses may be reluctant to disclose information regarding security breaches or vulnerabilities.

Cross-Sector Cooperation Is A Distinct Possibility

Cross-sector cooperation is becoming crucial in MENA’s cybersecurity businesses. To defend against cyber-attacks, this collaboration involves sharing information, resources, and knowledge throughout several sectors, including government, finance, healthcare, and energy. In the Middle East and Africa, several efforts have been made to promote cybersecurity information exchange between industries. The UAE Computer Emergency Response Team, for instance, has partnered with several industries, such as telecommunications, finance, and transportation.

A Tight Budget

The region’s struggle with cybersecurity can also be attributed to the constrained budgets. These businesses find it challenging to acquire qualified cybersecurity experts, invest in cutting-edge security technologies, and develop complete cybersecurity programs due to their low financial resources.

Many businesses are unaware of the possible effects of cyber threats or the importance of making cybersecurity investments. Only 27% of Middle Eastern firms, according to a report by Ernst & Young, have a budget specifically set aside for cybersecurity. Additionally, firms find it challenging to justify their investments in cybersecurity since it is frequently seen as a cost centre rather than a source of income.


The growing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, the expanding digital landscape, and the necessity of digital transformation initiatives are all driving the MENA region’s cybersecurity market toward significant growth. Despite these promising prospects, challenges persist.

As cyber threats continue to evolve and intensify, there is a pressing need for cross-sector collaboration, increased investment in cybersecurity education, and a shift in perception to view cybersecurity not just as a cost, but as an essential safeguard for businesses and institutions.

Addressing these challenges will be pivotal in establishing a robust cybersecurity posture for the region’s sustained growth and resilience in the face of emerging digital risks.

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