As the world grapples with the economic meltdown, one may think that this would result in cuts in global spending on homeland security. However, experts say this is not the case and expenditure on homeland security is expected to triple to $178 billion (Dh653bn) by 2015.
Over the years, the security-related spending has expanded to include more sophisticated technology and experts say budget on anti-terrorism goods and services is expected to keep growing.
Emirates Business spoke to the organisers and exhibitors at Intersec Trade Fair and Conference that is being held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre to find out more about homeland security and its growth.
Angela Schierholz, Senior Show Manager, Epoc Messe Frankfurt, said: "The global homeland security spending is expected to receive a major boost in light of recent international terrorist events, as countries look at new ways to thwart terror and secure their home countries. The spending is expected to triple to $178bn by 2015, according to research done by Epoc Messe Frankfurt.
"Hence, the agenda for the conference this year is globalisation and serious organised crime. The main categories include commercial security, homeland security (policing and law enforcement), fire and rescue and safety and health. More than 65 renowned international experts are giving insights into the latest trends and developments in all sections covered by Intersec."
Speaking at the Intersec Brigadier Dr Mohammed Ahmed bin Fahad, Director General of Dubai Police Academy, stated that international policy makers will focus their efforts on countering organised crime in the 21st Century.
He said: "The proceeds of organised crime internationally are increasing and filling the coffers of criminals who as a result are able to buy political power by corrupting politicians around the world.
"The vast sums of revenue from crime laundered by criminal gangs in international financial markets have contributed in a big way to the current credit crisis."
Bin Fahad called for international cooperation and the implementation of UN agreements designed to combat organised crime. He also called for Arab countries to unite, coordinate and cooperate in battling both organised crime and the credit crunch.
According to the organisers, homeland security is among the fastest-growing industries today. Initially the focus of homeland security was on airport security but the industry has expanded to include counter-terrorism, emergency management, disaster preparedness, critical infrastructure protection, and increasing the public's overall level of situational awareness and readiness.
The scope of the homeland security industry now includes chemical, biological and radiological detection, as well as border, rail, seaport, industrial and nuclear plant security. Other vendors include computer and human resources experts, boat makers for the coast guard, information and integrated technology companies, and myriad consultants.
Elizabeth Brehl, Managing Director, Epoc Messe Frankfurt, said: "Gulf leaders intend to use billions of dollars of oil revenue to purchase a huge array of military hardware. Recently, many of the deals were finalized at a massive arms fair in the UAE.
"Saudi Arabia alone has a shopping list that runs to almost $50bn, including fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, attack helicopters and more than 300 new tanks.
"Like its neighbours in the GCC, the UAE is embarking on a military spending programme in an attempt to safeguard its interests. The UAE has earmarked $2bn for a rapid reaction brigade – possibly to take a lead role in a regional protection force. Another $6bn will go on missile defence batteries, airborne early warning systems and aircraft. Both countries are members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, established in 1984 to provide security against perceived threats. Other members, including Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, are expected to spend heavily in the coming months."
According to Brehl, during the 2008-2018 period, the global homeland security and homeland defence markets will grow by 81 per cent from a sum total of $140bn in 2008, to about $254bn in 2018. The global homeland security and homeland defence markets will grow from 0.25 per cent of the global GDP in 2008 to about 0.36 per cent. Most of this growth will come at the cost of reducing traditional military outlays.
Brehl said: "The notion of the global defense industry is that they arrived at an all time high in orders backlog which will be followed by a market decline. The global homeland security and homeland defence markets are robust and forecasted to grow over the next 10 years at an impressive annual growth rate of seven to 7.5 per cent.
"Saudi Arabia is the world's second largest market. This market grows out of the need to defend the kingdom and their petro-chemical infrastructure from the threats of homegrown terror.
"China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and UAE will exhibit the fastest market growth. This expansion comes from a combination of fast economic growth along with the increasing threats of terror elaborators."
Experts estimate that due to the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, India's homeland security spending is likely to see a huge jump touching $9.7bn by 2016.
But those in the industry feel that it is not just the conventional threats that will see increase in security spending, the economic crisis is another reason that will spur the growth of the market.
Ameer Khan, Managing Director, Securtex, ME, one of the exhibitors at Intersec, said "In the last five years we have seen our business grow. For us it has been a growth of around 50 per cent to 75 per cent. And the industry is set to grow in the future too and this will ironically be due to the economic crisis. Globally any recession always spurs spending in security solutions. Just like in good times there is need for security to protect people who are doing business, in the same way during an economic crisis there is even more need for security as the recession puts financial pressure on people. And when people don't have jobs and money they tend to do things they would not do ordinarily. It is human nature.
"In the US for example, it is a proven fact that during recession there is more need for security as there is an increase in break-ins, shoplifting and other crimes.
"Even though in the UAE this is not a problem but globally this is the phenomena during a recession."
Khan said: "The recession also spurs a different kind of market. Usually the security demands in the UAE are concentrated on installation of security systems, CCTVs, intruder alarms, biometric access control, visitor management system etc. Now it is set to grow in a new dimension and that is maintenance. That is because the systems that were installed a few years ago are now growing old and they need to be looked after. Earlier it may have been a different story but now in the times of this economic recession people are looking more at maintenance, spare parts, replacement of defective parts etc."
Anastasia Shmyrina, Sales Manager, Streit Security Vehicles, agreed with Khan. "We have been in the armoured car business for the last 13 years and we supply security personnel transport vehicles and luxury armoured vehicles to governments, companies and militaries around the world. We have seen our business grow each year. Even though recently, due to the economic crisis we have seen a slight slowdown in the business."
This year's Intersec Trade Fair and Conference is showcasing 700 exhibitors from 50 countries, and 20,000 visitors from 100 countries are estimated to attend the show.
Things to look out for at the intersec
Apart from homeland security, the Intersec conference is also showcasing products related to the commercial security, fire and rescue and safety and health. Dubai Police and the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence are showcasing some innovative products and services at the Intersec.
The Abu Dhabi Civil Defence has modified a motorcycle into a mini fire truck to fight fires in congested areas where the normal fire engines can not reach.
They have also modified a segway and equipped it with a foam and powder fire extinguisher for use in tight places. These segways will also be used at the Dubai International Airport.
The Abu Dhabi Civil Defence has also equipped a wheelchair with fire fighting equipment so that people with special needs can put out a fire in case of emergency when alone at home.
The Dubai Police's K9 training department has trained its dogs to stop anti-social elements from making a quick getaway in their cars.
The dogs have been trained to intercept the miscreants and force them out of the vehicle.
The Dubai Police and Abu Dhabi Civil Defence will demonstrate the use of all these products today at 7pm near exhibition hall No6.