Israel was among the participants in the recent inaugural Arab International Cybersecurity Exhibition and Conference in Manama, Bahrain, the Israel National Cyber Directorate announced.

IDF Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Gaby Portnoy, director general of the Israel National Cyber Directorate, holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, May 2, 2022. Photo courtesy of Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

The event, which ran from Dec. 6-8, saw Israeli experts share a stage for the first time with the heads of cyber-defense organizations from Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Representatives from Oman, Kuwait and other countries also participated in the conference.

Israel was represented by National Cyber Directorate head Gabi Portnoy, who also led a joint workshop, according to the directorate.

“The meetings broadcast a public statement regarding regional cooperation in the cyber sphere against joint enemies, and form an additional building block for developing a joint Middle Eastern ‘cyber dome’ that will help Israel too in strengthening cyber defense at the national level,” said Portnoy, referring to Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

In his welcome message to conference participants, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said, “In the past 24 months, we have witnessed exponential advances in global technology that connects us more than ever before, driving extraordinary opportunity, innovation and progress. However, these technological advances have also given rise to a new wave of advanced and dangerous cyber-attacks.

“From hospitals to oil pipelines, from schools to airports—the scale and pace of these attacks—often beating our social norms, laws, and democratic institutions are also unleashing unprecedented complexity, instability and risk.”

The transnational nature of cybersecurity, he added, means these challenges cannot be addressed without international collaboration.

The UAE’s Head of Cyber Security, Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, said during a panel discussion at the conference that such dialogue and mutual learning regarding cyber defense has life-saving potential.