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19 April 2024

Eliminate risk? A dangerous idea...

By Alan MacMillan


The UAE is internationally recognised as one of the safest cities in the world; crime and especially violent crimes are rare. So why have a security column? Simply by saying the UAE is a safe and secure place to live does not make it so. I am sure you never think about this as you drive down Sheikh Zayed Road.

To me the word ‘security’ is the condition of being protected against a danger or loss and should not be confused with safety.

We all deal with risk daily, but it’s a sad indictment of modern life that we cannot recognise the difference between threat and risk and constantly miscalculate risks associated with a specific threat.
Let me elaborate this further without boring you all; what is the difference between a threat and a risk? A threat is an external issue represented by a manmade or natural attack; a risk is the degree of probability and the impact of a particular incident occurring in existing conditions.

An example of this is travel – cars are by far the most dangerous way to get around, yet we feel safe when we are driving because we are in control. This mistake is one shared by most, if not all, drivers.

One of the problems with this effect is that it leads to bad policy, at all levels – personal, corporate and national. People are not good at estimating the risk associated with a specific threat, having a natural overconfidence in their own abilities and mistrusting others.

One of the frightening aspects of life is the school of thought that risks can be eliminated. Frankly, it’s impossible to do so completely.

All businesses should execute some sort of risk management process. Proper management of risk and planning will ultimately lead to economic questions – it is, after all, about getting the best result for the smallest outlay until the level of risk is reduced to an acceptable level. But there are exceptions – the cost of preventing counterfeit currency is actually greater than the value of the currency itself, but the secondary effects of widespread counterfeiting would create a loss in the value of the currency.

In other areas, risk is actually a good thing. The very nature of investment requires an element of risk to provide reward.

I look forward to conversing with you on a weekly basis and hope you all ‘stay safe’.

Alan MacMillan is the Operations Director of Secureplus, a security consultancy and manned guarding service, based in Dubai. He has more than 15 years of security experience, the first 12 of which were spent in the British Army. You can contact Alan at amacmillan@secureplus.ae.