A boom time for the business of guards in the UAE
The UAE’s private security sector has grown considerably over the past decade.
Mahmood Mohammed Amin is the chief executive of World Security, a business unit of Dubai World whose clients include Dubai Customs and Emaar Properties.
Mr Amin talks about how this market has shifted with the country’s growth, increased piracy at sea and the challenges ahead.
How fast is the sector growing?
The private security sector is growing more than what was expected. It’s not only a man guarding a place; it’s about the whole security system, which can be controlled through, say, the internet.
What changes have been made among private security guards to combat sea piracy in the region?
Piracy is far away from our side, but we have procedures for the ships coming to our ports. They have to be registered with the International Maritime Organization, follow International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, declare what they are carrying, and how many armed or unarmed guards they have on board. There has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of armed guards on board merchant ships over the last five years.
How would you compare the nature of private security companies that are locally versus foreign-owned?
Dubai security market has attracted many companies, ranging from small, watchman providers to large multinational companies. The difference is local companies may have the advantage of better understanding the culture and the security requirement of local businesses and consumers.
How do you recruit and train people for the job?
Recruitment depends on the area of security requirement. For instance, we will recruit men with experience in hotel security for the job. A director from the specific department will go to the country [of prospective candidates], take writing tests, get home-city security clearance [and] our national security clearance. [Then] they will be fingerprinted, trained and get licensed from Dubai Police, trained on site itself and provided to the client.
How much does the culture of a region affect the training of the staff?
Language is the most important requirement. Private security personnel must know English and have a minimum two years experience in the area of security. They also have to have a little bit of Arabic background or we try to teach them about the culture in the UAE, the religion, other religions, what is allowed and not allowed.
How has the Arab Spring affected business?
Honestly, there was no effect, because we are 100 per cent locally owned and our operation is inside the UAE.
What are the challenges in this sector?
The challenge is creating awareness about the role of security among executives and society, awareness about price sensitivity in comparison to the quality provided, and increasing demand on security and the ability to meet the market requirement. There are residential security systems available, but only 2 per cent of the Dubai residents use them.
* Sananda Sahoo