ASIS Middle East 2022, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – review

ASIS Middle East

ASIS Middle East
14-17 November 2022
Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Principal partner: Saudi Aramco
Official supporter: HCIS
Strategic partner: Safe Security
Strategic sponsor: SABIC

Diamond sponsors: Saudi Electric Company, SWCC, Sipchem
Platinum sponsors: MATCO, Wishah Alwatan, Asharqia Chamber
Gold sponsors: System Security Solutions, SBM
Silver sponsor: GCC Lab
Educational sponsor: IDG
Participation sponsors: Luberef, Satorp, Petro Rabigh, Aramco Gulf Operations

I think we all have our preconceptions and maybe even an opinion on Saudi Arabia, but I’d like to share my experience of visiting the country for the recent ASIS event in Dammam.

I was persuaded to attend the event by my good friend Anand Subbiah of Secure Logiq, who I’d been filming in Dubai with just a few days earlier. For all my reticence, I took the gamble, heard the advice and flew into KSA to declare myself a ‘visa on entry’ request.

The process at the airport was made easy with the aid of a machine that took pictures and the necessary information to land me and within 10 minutes or so, I was being welcomed to the Kingdom and told to enjoy the conference and exhibition – so far so good!

Next stop was the hotel, which was impressive to say the least and just the start of what I was to see, as travelling by taxi to the Convention Centre, it was clear on arrival that this was going to be a show like no other.

A wonderful experience

Held under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Governor of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, it was obvious from the LED screen wall in the conference room that this event wasn’t holding back and similarly, the show floor was stacked with key brands that are making a difference in KSA and across the wider Region.

I took a walk around the floor and my first observation was a purpose-built Command and Control centre from fellow event partner Safe Security. Intrigued, I visited the main stand of the company to be met by a team member that explained they were the first company in the world to produce recognised security training courses in Arabic, breaking a 45-year English only tradition.

I can’t help but think that in 45 years, you’d have thought the West would have learnt a little Arabic to genuinely help a people on the rise, move more efficiently into providing training and development services to people working in the professional security environment, but here we are.

Once the conversation was started, it was apparent I was going to meet the CEO of the business, Manea H Shataiwi, who took a keen interest in the work we do at Security On Screen and went onto explain more about the reach and growth their business is enjoying and in what areas.

It turns out they operate across the sector not only training people, but delivering manned guarding solutions, counter drone tech and of course Command and Control, to name a few verticals.

Once I’d had a full tour of the stand, I was delighted to be invited by the Command and Control Head Fahad Ahmed Algamdi to visit the secure Command and Control Centre which took control room management to another level.

I particularly enjoyed the VR demo that hooked back into the actual control room the business uses – most impressive and a reminder it’s not just the West deploying solutions that excel.

Understanding the region better

Given the main objective for me was to gain perspective on who’s who and what contribution they’re making across the Kingdom and the wider Middle East, I can say it was great to learn about System Security Solutions and to meet the team at GCC Electrical Testing Laboratory –a company with 16 facilities focussed on product testing and assessment.

I wasn’t surprised to see Hadi Raynes of Eagle Eye Networks and it was great to explain more about the video news platform we have on offer for commercial providers to utilise and of course, to expand out the detail of our LinkedIn audience of over 123,000 individuals in our chat.

One company that took me by surprise with their market penetration and general…shall we say buoyancy for the market was Clearvu and their Divisional Manager Kyle Cave.

Demonstrating a strong and deep understanding of the Region and the challenges it faces, I relaxed very quickly and felt I’d known Kyle for years – it was obvious they are delivering some top quality ‘hard edged’ projects to all the right people.

Home away from home

Looking into the British Community that was there it was great to meet up with Mark Rees of 360 Vision Technology, a company that’s just had the foresight to align with John Benton and his team at Business Defence Services based in Bahrain. There’s more to come from that partnership, so it’s one I’m watching closely.

Expanding out my network, the pleasure was all mine to meet Scott McGill and Angus Darroch-Warren of Linx Group and to catch up with Richard Eaves of Bi3 and of course, Andrew Bull, who was there to support the channel HID have in place in the Kingdom and beyond.

Past that, grabbing a walk around the show with Lee Copland of Maxxess Systems, who were exhibiting alongside Intelligent Security Services, really helped me to understand the relationships in the room – so thanks Lee, as always, you’re a real help.

Some of the local brands that I think are worthy of a mention include KAES, IDVision MATCO Gardaworld and Proesidiad, all of whom didn’t know me or our Google News platform but they made me feel most welcome as they explained more about the work they do.

A networking extravaganza

The networking event on the Tuesday night was like no other event I’ve ever been too and those of you who know me will be aware it’s not my first rodeo! Greeted with traditional dancing and a party atmosphere, it was a pleasure to see the night well supported by delegates and exhibitors alike.

I thought networking without wine maybe a bit dull, but I have to say the energy in the room was right up there with some of the Stateside Networking events I’ve had the joy of attending.

Meeting briefly with Peter O’Neil in the aisles as the show concluded for me at the end of day two, it was obvious it was a running success.

The Saudi culture

There’s something deep set inside the people of Saudi that starts with how can I help, what can I do for you and concedes with a delivery of what ever you may ask for in such a humble way.

Someone said to me he felt ‘we in the West’ don’t give the Saudi people enough respect for how they are and what they have achieved, we tend to get stuck on the bits we don’t have in our Western World, but maybe this story about Nasser of Saudi Aramco may help expel some myths.

I was struggling to get a taxi back to my hotel, so I thought I’d pluck up the courage and ask a ‘local’ for some help. The response was clear – there were no taxis but not to worry ‘I will take you’, followed by ‘Where do you want to go’.

Once in Nasser’s car we got chatting and I explained I was media and my travelling colleague @AnanadSubbaih was Regional Director for @Securelogiq who specialise in delivering purpose-built servers for the security industry on a project-by-project basis. Nasser then announced halfway to the hotel that he wanted to take us both for a coffee which I’m glad I said yes to – it gave us chance to talk outside of the show and to get under the skin of how life is in the lovely City of Dammam.

Whilst completing the final leg of the journey, Nasser asked what we were doing that night so I explained we were off to the Networking event and he said he would take us and join us – he wanted to see the building which housed the event – it was a stunning museum and banqueting hall that helped all visitors learn more about the KSA and the journey it has been on from a National perspective.

I got the mandatory dancing in and got to hold a falcon before enjoying the company of the Canadian First Secretary and of course, the one and only @JohnCowling, who I go back several years with – always an insightful conversation and nuggets of info that help make my role in media just a little less cloudy than it could be if left to my own devices.

Some hours passed and I realised we were back to taxi hunting, only for Anand to point out that Nasser had waited for us as he didn’t want us to struggle to get back to our hotel – what can I say, for me that and the ease of entry and the genuine joy the people I met had in their eyes when they engaged, said it all.

I look forward to going back soon and hope that Security On Screen gets to cover some of the wonderful projects going on across Saudi and the wider Region.

All that remains is to say a big thanks to the organisers AYM Events, who made me totally welcome and to the team at ASIS who did the same. Once again, the team at ASIS – working on this occasion with primary sponsors Saudi Aramaco to produce the program – have excelled.

Comments from exhibitors include:

Ioannis Pappas, Operations Leader – Aramco: “It was a great experience. Great to meet many people from the Security industry and discuss the current trends and technologies for event crowd safety and security controls. I would like to congratulate all event organisers for giving me the opportunity to participate as a speaker. Well done to all.”

Kyle Cave, Divisional Manager – Clearvu: “The show for me was the best gathering of security professionals In KSA under one roof. Excellent show overall and well organised.”

Peter O’Neil, Director General – ASIS: “ASIS International is grateful to our volunteers who expended so much time and effort in MENA to host the ASIS Middle East Conference. We are especially grateful to Saudi Aramco for their unwavering support. It was exciting to be back in the region, live, for the first-time since 2019. We set region record attendance, exposition records, and we had an outstanding exchange or knowledge and information.”

Angus Warren, Managing Director – Linx: “The ASIS ME conference and exhibition gave me the opportunity to listen to a selection of thought leaders from the region who covered a range of region-specific insight as well as well as more personal detail on their professional activities in the security arena. The Organising Committee must be congratulated for bringing together quality speakers and, I believe, more than 5000 attendees and over 70 exhibitors show casing their products. As a provider of security consulting and training services (we ran three ASIS certification ‘boot camps’ the week prior to ASIS ME with 67 learners), the discussions with delegates and other exhibitors were very positive with a lot of interest in what we can offer as a group. Overall, a very positive couple of days!”

Maher Aboukhaled, PMO Manager – System Security Solutions: “The ASIS exhibition was exceptional as we met multiple clients and suppliers that would enhance our business in the Industrial Security projects. We already started gathering the fruits of the exhibition as we had very important meetings the past few days as we proposed our fully integrated solutions to multiple clients. It was an honour to meet Peter and everyone else and we wish that will be a start of building up new business opportunities.”

Richard Eaves, Head of Operations – Business Insight 3: “It was my pleasure to visit ASIS Middle East for the first-time representing Business Insight 3 (Bi3) and joining our partners 360 Vision Technology and Building Defence Systems (BDS). Our combined offering of physical security measures, along with class leading camera technology and Bi3’s expertise in Human, Vehicle and Object detection generated a fantastic amount of interest as a best of breed combined solution and it was clear the Middle East has a real drive for quality and innovation. I found there to be a real buzz throughout the event and had the pleasure of meeting a great amount of highly professional and welcoming individuals and business. We look forward to building and developing strong relationships and working on some very interesting projects in the region.”

John Benton, Managing Director – BDS: “The ASIS Middle East 2022 was, I think, a well targeted event, as a business it proved to be a great interface with high end decision makers from the exact market we are heavily engaged with. It was a chance to mix with industry faces we had not seen for some time as well as introduce ourselves to new people. As an exhibitor it was simply very busy, but at the same time the engagements were of a high-quality level. It was great to see the team we had on the stand engaged pretty much the whole day, certainly we would welcome an opportunity to be involved in future ASIS regional events.”


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