Fourth UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship begins: “If we don’t help each other, we’ll never succeed”

Our previous UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship concluded at the start of summer, prompting us to take a recent walk down memory lane to reflect on our cohort’s accomplishments. They included research projects extending from speaking at the United Nations through to understanding gaming habits and preventing risks.

We’re excited to continue delivering the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship on behalf of the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) alongside our partner digital risk management consultancy PGI, to support outstanding female cyber security professionals from across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Our collective aim with UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship is to help more women enter and thrive in the cybersecurity sector and drive cross-border collaboration between the GCC countries and the UK, with knowledge shared through expert-led workshops, networking, mentoring and events.

The official launch of the new UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship marks its fourth outing and has taken place in Muscat this week, where we’ve welcomed a cohort of 20 fellows from Oman, KSA, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar. The addition of the new recruits builds on an alumni community of over 60 fellows from three previous fellowships.

Speaking to a captivated audience, Aziza Al Rashdi, says: “Right now, we have over 20 females in my team and I’m proud of that. [However] I believe that we women need support. Without this support, we can’t achieve as men do.

“Unfortunately, from my experience, male colleagues are given training without even asking. For us, for women, we have to ask for the training. If we don’t help each other, we’ll never succeed.

“I decided to form a cyber security firm for Omani women, a cyber and tech initiative. Since 2018 to now, I have over 160 female members – all Omanis in cyber security from different fields. Through the firm, as we’re representing the women in the Middle East, we provide training and opportunities which will continue. I hope through the Fellowship and with your support, we can achieve the maximum for women in the field.”

In addition to Aziza, other speakers and topics during the opening sessions included: 

  • William Theyer, FCDO Gulf Cyber Lead, underlined how the Fellowship is being recognised at the highest levels in UK government
  • HMA Dr Liane Saunders OBE at FCDO and Dr Ali Al Balushi, Head of Oman CDC, discussed the cyber threats as well as innovation and technology opportunities across the GCC, comparing them by country. This touched on critical national infrastructure and operational tech, raising awareness and observing the future of AI.

Jessica Moffatt-Owen, Innovation Lead at Plexal, says: “What a week in sunny Muscat! I had the pleasure of launching the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship on behalf of the FCDO with our partners Protection Group International and our sponsors British Embassy Muscat. It was fantastic to see such inspiring women across the GCC collaborate, network and share their knowledge and experience. This programme can really unlock the potential of female professionals across the Gulf and we’re proud to be part of such an important initiative.”