BSIA survey offers British perspective on Middle East security technology and business trends

Greg Stuttle Chairman of the BSIA’s Export Council

The results of new research carried out on behalf of the British Security Industry Association’s Export Council to tie-in with Intersec 2014, has brought into sharp focus the key technologies, like biometrics for access control and HD CCTV, that have been having a major impact in the Middle East security marketplace over the past year. The survey also confirms that there remains strong demand across the region for the best of British security systems, despite increased international competition, with Saudi Arabia and UAE particularly prominent where order books are concerned.

Looking in more detail at the research results, the vast majority of the Export Council’s member companies (89%), who responded to the survey, acknowledged that they are active in this pivotal region, a figure which is up by 2% year-on-year. Of those questioned, an impressive 50% reported that they had witnessed a notable increase in revenues derived from the Middle East over the past 12 months and a further 12.5% confirmed that business levels were unchanged. Significantly, the outlook for the coming year is set to be even stronger with all members questioned saying they anticipate a rise in orders.

Drilling down to the specific parts of the region that are generating the most sales for member companies, the two countries heading-up the list, from detailed analysis of the research are, respectively, Saudi Arabia and UAE – both on 29%. Other geographical areas making a strong impression over the past year, according to the member companies surveyed, were Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait.

When asked to respond on the approach to security technology which they felt had made the largest impact in the Middle East over the past 12 months, ‘biometrics for access control’ came out well ahead of everything else, in fact it was singled out by half of all of those surveyed. Also featuring strongly in the research were, once again, HD and Mega-pixel CCTV; PSIM (Physical Security and Information Management), and switch mode power supplies, each one being selected by 17% of the respondents.

Looking more closely at the strong push to have biometrics integrated into access control solutions, this serves to underline the increasing recognition amongst BSIA member’s customers across the Middle East of the enhanced security, and day-to-day management of sites, that can be delivered by building in the ability to uniquely identify individuals from their physical characteristics.

Alongside this, the roll-out of HD and Mega-pixel CCTV cameras is proving a popular choice thanks to the ability to provide additional detail in security critical applications, such as banks and hotel lobbies. The rise of PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) – which also stood out in last year’s survey – is in line with expectations given the surge of interest in bringing together, and operating, a wide range of security elements, especially where larger projects are concerned. When it comes to switch mode PSUs (Power Supply Units) the strong showing in the Export Council’s research can, in part, be attributed to the much greater efficiency levels that can be realised compared to traditional linear models, allowing them to run significantly cooler and to offer enhanced reliability. Of course as with any research there were a couple of surprises, specifically the fact that hybrid security solutions and VCA (Video Content Analysis) did not feature in the rankings this time around, both of which have scored highly in previous years.

On the subject of what is influencing customer buying decisions in the region, the research investigated the leading factors which Export Council members were finding on the ground. It was discovered, encouragingly, that compliance with industry standards was ranked as the most important decision-making factor by a third of respondents (33.3%) when dealing with Middle East customers, something that has always been a key consideration for BSIA membership. Government requirements were also singled out by a similar proportion of respondents. This reinforces the importance for Export Council members of working with partners who have strong local knowledge of the region. Other subsidiary factors mentioned included: ease of use/operation and technological innovation.

Beyond this, the survey sought to discover which vertical markets were leading the way in taking up solutions offered by BSIA’s Export Council member companies. It was reported, not surprisingly, that the top market sector was oil and gas on 50%, confirming the economically vital role the industry continues to play. Following on from this in second place – on 33.3% – was office developments/prestigious buildings. Other markets of note were government and residential. BSIA members are also active in sectors such as transport, hotel/leisure, retail, banking and domestic.

Putting forward some thoughts on the survey, Greg Stuttle, Chairman of the BSIA’s Export Council says: “The new Export Council research, which is being unveiled at Intersec 2014, serves once again to underline the phenomenal demand out there in the Middle East for the best that British security solutions can offer and, in particular, those from BSIA member companies. Moving ahead, it is encouraging to reflect on the high degree of confidence expressed by Export Council members in their prospects for 2014. Significantly, these findings tie-in with the results of our annual ‘State of the Nation’ survey conducted late last year which served to signal a major strategic shift. The Middle East is now the single most important target market worldwide for BSIA members over the next 12 months whereas only a year ago it was Western Europe that was very much to the forefront.

“Turning back to the latest research, from a BSIA perspective, the fact that members report industry standards ranking highly in the thinking of prospective customers is encouraging and makes a welcome change from the perennial focus on initial purchase price,” comments Stuttle. “On the technology front it certainly appears that biometrics for access control is coming to the fore and this probably reflects the way this technology has matured over the past few years,” he says.

Continues Stuttle: “Although from the survey, Saudi Arabia and UAE head-up the table when it comes to our member’s Middle East business activities, it is important to stress that a great deal of attention is also being given to other, fast developing, areas across the region with Turkey, for example, offering a wealth of opportunities for the future.”

To find out more about the work of the BSIA’s Export Council and the benefits of buying security solutions from member companies please visit

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