A meeting of minds in Abu Dhabi with the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship 

After our recent UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship meeting in Abu Dhabi in March, it left us with the feeling – as ever – of how important the Fellowship programme is, and how powerful its impact can be.

For those unfamiliar with the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship, it’s a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) sponsored programme, delivered by Plexal and PGI, which aims to champion peer learning and support female cyber security professionals across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. The fellowship is strengthening links between the UK and the Gulf and plays a key role in the Women, Peace and Security agenda, which recognises the role women play in the cyber sector.  

We have a mix of Fellows, from government, the private sector and academia – all cyber security professionals bringing unique perspectives and experiences to the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship . The Fellows work on group projects, which have had a great impact in the region. They range from creating resources on an Arabic online cyber security portal and creating research papers on data privacy to using innovation methodology to understand insider threat and enhancing the Women in Cybersecurity Middle East (WiCSME) group. There’s a lot going on.  

The best thing about coming together in person is to hear the Fellows present their progress, learning journeys and findings from their projects. And it’s safe to say that everyone in the room learnt something new from the Fellows while listening to their presentations.

Jessica Moffatt-Owen, Innovation Lead at Plexal, said: “The energy of the Fellowship in action is palpable: the networking and peer learning opportunities are abundant and it was brilliant to see shining stars of cyber security in the region so engaged. The support for each other in this sisterhood is also very valuable and it’s great to see women sharing their expertise and pushing each other’s development.” 

We were fortunate to have experts from BAE Systems deliver a cyber incident game, which was a fantastic collaboration and team building learning exercise. For the day, we were all CISOs, and the game sparked plenty of conversations and debate. Interestingly, no one team took the same path – but that highlighted the nuance of the Fellows’ thinking, the approaches to risk management and their aptitude for learning.  

The UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship is a special programme, which brings together excellent minds throughout the GCC region and we can’t wait to see the Fellows (old and new!) in person again in September 2023.