Artificial Intelligence and its Place in the United Arab Emirates Security System
Artificial Intelligence and its Place in the United Arab Emirates Security System
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
This chapter outlines the research methodology used in the study. The research onion was used to contextualize the layered structure and procedure for investigating the subject of this study. It also helped rationalize the strategy employed in this study. Therefore, this section details the structure and procedure used to undertake this study and is structured to outline the philosophy of the study, the research approach, the research strategy, the research methods, the data collection procedure and the data analysis used in this study.
3.2 Philosophy of the study
The philosophy of the study outlines the development and nature of knowledge and therefore provides a view of reality and how it influences the determination of legitimate knowledge (Walliman, 2017). From this precept, this study focuses not on the development of new knowledge but on the existing knowledge related to the application of artificial intelligence in the security systems in the United Arab Emirates. The interpretivism philosophy was chosen to address the research question in this study because of its ability to investigate an ongoing or impeding phenomenon using information gathered from a small sample or from fragmented sources (Antwi & Hamza, 2015). In the same vein, the naturalistic approach of data collection that used information collected from archived documents and existing published literature was used to generate the meaning of the phenomenon surrounding artificial intelligence, and security structures and systems in the United Arab Emirates.
3.3 Research approach
A deductive research approach was used in this study. This approach was preferred because of its ability in facilitating the confirmation of ideas and theories surrounding artificial intelligence and national security systems and structures and therefore link knowledge to theory (Johnston, 2014). Exploratory and descriptive approaches were used in this study. Specifically, the exploratory approach was used to reveals the security issues afflicting the United Arab Emirates, the national security systems in place to address these issues and the place of artificial intelligence in addressing these issues. In addition, the descriptive approach was used to describe the national security policies in the United Arab Emirates and integration of artificial intelligence in the security systems and structures in the country.
3.4 Research strategy
The research strategy outlines that plan of action used to direct thoughts and conduct the study systematically to obtain results within the prescribed time. A case study strategy was use in this study. This strategy was preferred because of it is ability to generate in-depth understanding of complex issues in their context in real life (Walliman, 2017). In this study, the security issues in the United Arab Emirates is a complex issue and equally, artificial intelligence is an innovation that is now well understood yet it has great potential in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the national security systems in the country. As such, the study focused on the United Arab Emirates as a case.
3.5 Research methods
Research methods provide the systematic and logical approaches used in a study. The choice of the research methods should be informed by the research question and the availability of data to address the research questions. Therefore, research methods ensure that sufficient evidence can be gathered and that the findings obtained are of sufficient validity (Walliman, 2017). In this regard, qualitative research method was used in this study. The qualitative research approach is popular in social sciences because it is able to explore social processes and systems. It also provides detailed and comprehensive understanding of the way people interpret everyday situations in regular natural settings (Walliman, 2017). In this regard, this method was preferred because of its ability to resolve the research questions by gathering diverse information related to the security problems faced by the United Arab Emirates, the national security policies formulated by the government to address these issues and the integration of artificial intelligence in the national security systems of the country.
3.6 Data collection
Data collection comprises of the procedures and instruments of collecting the data required for a study. The data collection procedures are the activities undertaken by the researcher in the process of collecting data. In turn, data collection instruments are the tools used by the researcher to collect data for the study.
Secondary data was used in this study. This data was collected from archived documents and published literature that is available over the internet and online databases. Secondary data was preferred because of the difficulties in obtaining primary data from national security and government policy actors in the United Arab Emirates due to security and confidentiality concerns. Therefore, secondary data provided a non-intrusive alternative source because the publications contained information that had already been released to the public. Purposive sampling was used in this study. This sampling approach uses a set of criteria upon which selection of the sources of data is based, rather than randomly selecting the sources. In this case, the sources of secondary data were purposively sampled to suit the selection criteria. Specifically, publications that were identified and selected did not exceed five years, to ensure that they were relevant and current. In addition, preference was given to information from the websites of government ministries and agencies, peer-reviewed journals, governmental reports, and reports from recognized organizations because of their authenticity and reliability.
An internet search was preferred because of its cost effectiveness and ability to save time as well. Indeed, this study was undertaken with the limited financial and time resources that constrained the researcher. In addition, the internet can access huge volumes of publications from all over the world, which ensures that knowledge from different corners of the world can be accessed readily at the convenience of the researcher. In this regard, Google Scholar was used as the search engine for the internet search while keywords such as security issues in the United Arab Emirates, artificial intelligence in the United Arab Emirates, national security policies in the United Arab Emirates, and use of artificial intelligence in national security systems in the United Arab Emirates among others were used to direct the search.
3.7 Data analysis
Data analysis enables the evaluation of data and examination of the component contained in the data obtained in a study. In this study, the secondary data was analyzed by using logical reasoning to inspect the different information provided by the data. In this study, a thematic analysis was performed on the secondary data. It involved the identification of patterns of meanings contained in the publications that were thought to provide answers to the research questions. In this case, the literature obtained from the internet was inspected for common themes related to the research questions. The important information was highlighted in the publications and the common themes recorded in a spreadsheet alongside their sources.
CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
This chapter details the various findings obtained from the existing literature that was obtained from online sources. The findings are described thematically in line with the research questions and objectives. Specifically, the findings are arranged in themes such as the a) the security threats that are faced by the United Arab Emirates, b) the artificial intelligence initiatives undertaken by the government of the United Arab Emirates, c) the integration of artificial intelligence in the national security systems in the United Arab Emirates, and d) the opportunities that artificial intelligence provides for the national security systems in the United Arab Emirates.
4.1 The security threats that are faced by the United Arab Emirates
The literature revealed that the United Arab Emirates faced numerous security threats politically, economically, socially and culturally. Notably, Fishman and Brattberg (2017) and Wehrey (2014) observed that the security of the United Arab Emirates was threatened politically by the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the rise of the Islamic State, the spread of the war in Syria, and the withdrawal of the American military from Afghanistan and Iraq. Yaghi (2014) found political threats that emerged within the United Arab Emirates such as the threat to the federal system in the country. This threat was caused by the differences in development and wealth among the different emirates, which was causing some emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai to cooperate with the federal government while others were rebellious thus threatening the unity of the country. In addition, the demographic imbalance in the country such that foreigners were more than the emirate population was presenting political, economic and cultural threats to the country (Yaghi, 2014). In the same vein, De Albuquerque (2016) observed that the security of the United Arab Emirates and other gulf region countries was politically and culturally threatened by Israel. Specifically, Israel, and particularly the ongoing Palestine-Israeli conflict threatened Arabism and Islam in the gulf region countries. Likewise, Iran, presented a threat to the monarchies with Shiite minorities such as the United Arab Emirates, because there was fear that the Iranian revolution would encourage rebellion against the monarchies (De Albuquerque, 2016). Davidson (2014) observed that the Arab Awakening or Arab Spring phenomenon threatened the existence of the monarchies in the United Arab Emirates and other monarchies in the gulf region due to the possibility of the rebellion of the indigenous people against the expatriates in these countries. Moreover, the United Arab Emirates was threatened by the regional hegemony of Saudi Arabia in a rivalry that has persisted over the history of the two countries (Davidson, 2014).
From an economic perspective, Al Neaimi, Ranginya and Lutaaya (2015) observed that the United Arab Emirates faced cyber threats because of its economic advancement and the high penetration of the internet in the gulf region. Therefore, there was the worry that large corporations and critical infrastructure in the country such as oil refineries and power plants would experience cyber attacks from terrorists and other disgruntled groups (Al Neaimi, Ranginya & Lutaaya, 2015). Moreover, the United Arab Emirates remains vulnerable to financial crises due to its integration with the global financial markets and market economy (Doherty, 2014).
4.2 The artificial intelligence initiatives undertaken by the government of the United Arab Emirates
The literature revealed that artificial intelligence was recognized by the government of the United Arab Emirates and was already being incorporated into the national policies of the country. For instance, Doherty (2014) indicated that the United Arab Emirates had a national smart cities plan that leveraged artificial intelligence, and the initiatives were already underway in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In addition, the UAE government launched an artificial intelligence strategy in 2017, which was aimed at developing the infrastructure and human resource (Halaweh, 2018; PwC, 2019). In fact, the government has developed the National AI Strategy 2031 to direct the artificial intelligence initiatives in the country. In turn, the government has a national program and a minister of state for artificial intelligence, which indicates its commitment to advance and integrate artificial intelligence in its activities and policies (Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, 2019).
4.3 The integration of artificial intelligence in the national security systems in the United Arab Emirates
The literature revealed that the government of the United Arab Emirates was taking steps to integrate artificial intelligence into its national security systems. For instance, Efthymiopoulos (2016) reported that the silicon oasis start city initiative in Dubai sought to use artificial intelligence to secure the city against cyber attacks. In addition, Halaweh, M. (2018) revealed that the UAE government through the ministry of state for artificial intelligence had invested heavily in AI initiatives and projects in the security sector. For instance, the ministry has developed a robot police officer that employed AI applications and systems (Halaweh, 2018). However, the country was still in the process of building its technical and human capacity. It was also experimenting with artificial intelligence in the improvement of government services, and thus was yet to implement AI initiatives in its national security systems.
4.4 The opportunities that artificial intelligence provides for the national security systems in the United Arab Emirates
The literature revealed that there were numerous opportunities provided by artificial intelligence in the national security systems of the United Arab Emirates that remain unexplored. According to the minister of defense of the United Arab Emirates, there were opportunities in using artificial intelligence in ‘super humans’ or ‘super soldiers’ who can be deployed in militaries for defense purposes (Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence (2018).
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS
From the study, it may be concluded that:
- The political, economic, social and cultural threats facing the United Arab Emirates currently affect the security of the country. However, political and economic issues are most threatening to the national security of the United Arab Emirates. Notably, presence of hostile and politically ambitious neighbors such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran threaten the national security of the UAE. In addition, the economic progress and health together with the large number of expatriates pose economic threat to the country. Specifically, the integration of the emirate economy to the global economy exposes the country to transnational terrorism and cyber attacks of its institutions, multinational corporations and critical infrastructure. This may explain why the government’s policy focuses on cyber security to secure the economic systems in the country.
- Continued conflicts and tensions in the gulf region, and the growing importance of the United Arab Emirates in the global economy will continue presenting national security threats to the country. Therefore, the current and future security needs of the country include securing it from regional hegemonies, transnational crime and internal unrests. These threats present cyber security issues because the internet penetration in the country and the gulf region is high. In addition, the country is envied by its neighbors in the gulf region and among the Arab countries because of its economic advancements and low reliance on the oil economy. As such, the country has large and valuable infrastructure installations that are attractive to cyber criminals. Moreover, the country is closely located to notorious terrorism and extremist groups that would seek to attack the country in order to continue destabilizing the gulf region.
- Artificial intelligence has been prioritized by the government of the United Arab Emirates. This indicates that the UAE government views artificial intelligence as a way of improving the efficiency of government operations as well as a way of improving its security systems and structures. Notably, the creation of a ministry of state for artificial intelligence in 2017 together with the formulation of the National AI Strategy 2031 are sufficient evidence that artificial intelligence is being considered at the national policy level. This has made the government to invest huge financial resources to the development of technical and human capacity in artificial intelligence in the country. In addition, there are indications that the country wishes to lead in the development of secure smart cities using artificial intelligence applications and solutions. Moreover, the development of automated policing mechanisms that use artificial intelligence in an indication that the government recognizes the ability of AI to enhance the internal security of the country. Indeed, the enthusiasm of the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, His Excellence Omar bin Sultan Al Olama gives enormous optimism to the efforts the country is undertaking in developing artificial intelligence solutions and incorporating them into government activities. the minister is visionary enough to realize that artificial intelligence with permeate the economic and security aspects in the country and even envisages the automation of security services such as law enforcement and the military.
- However, there is little evidence that the government in the United Arab Emirates have ventures into security areas beyond cyber security in its artificial intelligence policy and strategy. Most of the government efforts are directed towards economic and social activities related to healthcare, tourism and hospitality, logistics and transportation and resources and energy. As such, these efforts are directed towards the enhancement of the national economy of the United Arab Emirates. In addition, most of the government initiatives are focusing on improving research and development capabilities by making the country an incubator for artificial intelligence innovations.
From these conclusions, it is recommended that:
- The government of the United Arab Emirates continues to collaborate with other technologically advanced countries is the various areas of artificial intelligence. Already, the country was already collaborating with countries such as the United States to improve its artificial intelligence capabilities. In addition, the government was focused on making the country into a leader in smart cities where the abilities of artificial intelligence can be exhibited. Since these smart cities will incorporate artificial intelligence and robotics in their security systems, the government of the United Arab Emirates can use these cities to develop security systems that can be used to secure the country as a whole.
- The government should continue investing in the development of technical and human capacity in artificial intelligence. Already, the government was facilitating the training of emirates though conferences and university courses. While it is expected that the country will have developed its technical and human capacity in artificial intelligence by the end of the national strategy initiative in 2031, the country should start focusing on using these capacities to develop national security systems that integrate artificial intelligence and robotics. This requires that the government starts formulating a new artificial intelligence strategy that focuses on national security because it would help redirect the knowledge and technical knowhow accumulated over time.
- The government should invest more into innovation of security solutions that use artificial intelligence. This requires that the government diversifies its investments and policies beyond the improvement of the country’s economy and include national security solutions. While securing the country’s economy is important, the national security of the country is also important because it can help secure the economy of the country, considering that there are large and expensive investments in it. Indeed, the critical infrastructure in the oil and gas sector alongside the large investments in the financial, hospitality and logistics sectors make the United Arab Emirates an important economic hub in the country. Therefore, securing these installations is an important national security issue for the United Arab Emirates.
- The government should continue with its collaboration with its neighbors in security matters in the gulf region. Information and intelligence sharing among the gulf region countries would help secure them from external security threats. The United Arab Emirates should use its leadership to rally the countries around it to adopt artificial intelligence solutions into their national security systems and structures.
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