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Legal Considerations In An Increasingly Diverse Defence Market

The IDEX conference just concluded last week in Abu Dhabi demonstrated the intertwining nature of the threats that the world currently faces in dealing with malevolent actors, as well as the resilient manner in which government and industry have developed countermeasures to deal with this ever-increasing threat spectrum. Similarly, with increasing danger comes opportunity, and those entities that can most efficiently deliver effective defence solutions are able to thrive in the competitive threat deterrence sphere.

The headline grabbing deals announced at IDEX involve large-scale military hardware procurements collectively running into the billions of dirhams. However, as was also highlighted at IDEX, today’s threat matrix goes well beyond that formerly dealt with by solely traditional military hardware systems, as the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has introduced paradigm shifting technologies, including cyber capability and artificial intelligence (AI), into the mix. Threats come from many sources: state actors and their proxies, terrorism, criminal enterprises, industrial espionage, and reputational attack. It is not just nation-states that bear the risk from threats employing innovative 4IR platforms, but corporations, other organizations, and individuals as well.

The UAE is at the forefront of adopting 4IR technology for the public benefit. Given this adoption, the UAE government has enacted a legal framework to regulate the use of cyber-technology and related forward-looking innovations. However, as is the case with almost all emerging technologies, legislation and regulatory guidance often plays catch up with the technology, and there are gaps that need to be cured as the technology advances. There are numerous UAE laws and regulations covering various aspects of 4IR technology, including Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 covering cyber-crimes, and the newly enacted Federal Law No. 25 of 2018 dealing with futuristic projects, which seeks to regulate development of AI.

However, the latter has yet to be fully implemented through its enabling regulation, leading to some marketplace uncertainty. Likewise, the various free zone authorities, particularly the DIFC and ADGM, have separate regulatory schemes covering such technology. Thus, stakeholders need to be aware of the legal landscape in which this technology is currently being developed and deployed. This terrain creates opportunities for both large corporations and SMEs alike to develop and deploy innovative solutions to defend against malevolent actors, including threats posed by terrorism and cyber-criminals, as well as the inevitable byproduct of non-malicious technological failures inherent in all emerging technologies.

BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP is uniquely situated to advise and assist any entity whose interests include the development, procurement, or other usage of 4IR technology, as well as its integrated traditional threat deterrent systems. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge of UAE and GCC law, as well as strong relationships with regulatory authorities, and are thus well qualified to guide our clients in obtaining the necessary approvals to effectively engage in the 4IR and traditional systems spheres. Likewise, we have expertise in drafting appropriate risk management, AML, data-keeping, and related compliance practices that are an integral part of a proper corporate governance regime, particularly as it relates to the development and use of emerging technologies.

For more information contact Michael Kortbawi and Barry Greenberg.

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