On the 2ndand 3rd October 2023, the UAE held the first ever privacy and data protection law conference; a unique event organised by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and data protection practitioners in the Middle East. The conference brought together data protection and security compliance professionals from across the world to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East data protection framework.
Data Protection law in the Middle East has seen some rapid developments recently. The UAE has enacted its first federal law to comprehensively regulate the processing of personal data in all seven emirates. Once in force (expected to be early next year) this will sit alongside current data protection laws regulating businesses in the various UAE financial districts such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Data Protection Law No. 5 of 2020 and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Data Protection Regulations 2021. Jordan, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar also have comprehensive data protection laws. Currently what is causing most excitement in the Middle East data protection community is Saudi Arabia’s Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) which came into force on 14th September 2022.
The conference agenda covered various topics including the interoperability of data protection laws in the GCC, unlocking data flows in the region, smart cities, the use of facial recognition and data localisation. The focus of day 2 was on AI and machine learning. There were some great panels on this topic discussing AI standards, transparency and the need for regulation.
Speakers included the UAE Minister for AI, His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, as well as leading data protection lawyers and practitioners from around the world. Elisabeth Denham, former UK Information Commissioner, also addressed the delegates alongside data protection regulators from across the region. Act Now’s director, Ibrahim Hasan, was invited to take part in a panel discussion to share his experience of GDPR litigation and enforcement action in the UK and EU and what lessons can be drawn for the Middle East.
Alongside Ibrahim, the Act Now team were at the conference to answer delegates’ questions about our UAE and KSA training programmes.
Act Now has delivered training extensively in the Middle East to a wide range of delegates including representatives of the telecommunications, legal and technology sectors. We were pleased to see there that there was a lot of interest in our courses especially our DPO certificates.
Following the conference, Ibrahim was invited to deliver a guest lecture to law students at Middlesex University Dubai. This is the biggest university in Dubai with over 4500 students from over 118 countries. Ibrahim talked about the importance of Data Protection law and job opportunities in the information governance profession. He was pleasantly surprised by the students’ interest in the subject and their willingness to consider IG as an alternative career path. A fantastic end to a successful trip. Our thanks to the conference organisers, particularly Lori Baker at the DIFC Commissioner’s Office, and our friends at Middlesex University Dubai for inviting us to address the students.
Now is the time to train your staff in the new data protection laws in the Middle East. We can deliver online as well as face to face training. All of our training starts with a free analysis call to ensure you have the right level and most appropriate content for your organisation’s needs. Please get in touch to discuss your training or consultancy needs.