I woke up in the Middle East this morning. In Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, to be precise. This isn’t the first time I have been in the Middle East. I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain. Although there are no stamps in my passport for any of those countries. That’s because I went to those countries in 1990 and 1991 during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
23 years is a long time. I left Saudi Arabia on April 14, 1991. And I was prepared then to say that I would never go back to the Middle East. In fact, until a few months ago I would have told you that the only country in the Middle East I would ever willingly visit, unless things changed dramatically, was Israel. Obviously, now I find myself in the Middle East again.
It’s really an interesting experience. So many things are similar. The smells and sounds are the same. The color of the sky, the way the town and the horizon and the colors look. They are different here. It’s more brown, less green, of course. But really, it just looks different. And it all brings so many memories flooding back.
This picture at sunrise may help to explain the difference in sights and colors.
And there are also many things very different. The UAE, especially Dubai, is much more cosmopolitan, secular and tolerant than almost ever other Persian Gulf country. Men and women are dressed anywhere from modestly western to very traditional Muslim. There is an incredible amount of construction going on in Dubai, as well. The number and variety of global businesses with a significant presence here is pretty impressive, too.
I’m here for the GITEX conference this week. My company, Core Security, is working with our partner in the Middle East, StarLink, at the conference. My focus, of course, is on security program maturity, advancing from vulnerability assessment to vulnerability management, making your program effective.
It’s been a long time, but I am actually in this part of the world again. But, thankfully, for a very different reason.
And yes, I will smoke a cigar or three.