Personal security in the UAE – why is it growing and where are the opportunities?

Personal security in the UAE

In a crime index survey from 2024, which looked at 333 cities worldwide, Riyadh was ranked 295, Dubai 330, Doha 331, Muscat 327, and Abu Dhabi 333. It’s one of the few surveys where you want to come last, and year after year, cities in our region consistently rank among those with the lowest crime levels in the world. All of which begs the question – why is the personal and private security industry growing in a region known for its low crime rates?

The heightened demand for private security is largely about personal choice rather than a response to crime levels. Private security reinforces, rather than detracts from, the sense of living in one of the world’s safest regions. And where there is increased demand, there are opportunities.

This year, the safety and protection trade show Intersec will be held in Saudi Arabia, and next year in Dubai. So, interest is clearly growing across the board. But what’s driving it? In this article, I’ll give an overview of the personal and private security industry in the UAE and wider GCC and discuss where I believe the opportunities lie. I’ll also give my take on where I see potential in certain growing niche areas.

Let’s jump in.

Personal security – an industry on the move

The Middle East’s commercial security market is expected to grow 16% per year until 2025, reaching a market value of USD 8.4bn. The optimism around this industry was demonstrated last year when Palm Sports acquired Securiguard Middle East for USD 81m. The key driver for this growth? An increasing number of wealthy individuals relocating to the GCC, and the UAE in particular. In fact, in 2022 the UAE saw a net influx of 5,200 HNWIs relocating to the country. This is the highest figure in the region.

But what ‘personal protection’ looks like in practice has changed considerably over the years. It’s true that personal security in the GCC used to be synonymous with the presence of visibly armed guards or large bodyguard details escorting high-profile individuals. However, the preferences of expats and affluent residents alike have evolved. Many now seek a more inconspicuous approach to security, hiring professionals trained in blending into their surroundings while maintaining vigilance around risk assessment, threat detection, and crisis management.

This shift has led to a rise in demand for specialised security services that offer a mix of professionalism and subtlety and reflects a desire for seamless integration into daily life without compromising safety.

In tandem with the demand for covert protection, there has been a significant emphasis on leveraging technological advancements to enhance security measures. AI and sophisticated surveillance systems play a pivotal role in augmenting traditional security protocols. AI-powered algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data in real-time, enabling proactive threat detection and swift response capabilities. This might be a little too ‘military’ for someone who simply needs basic protection, but as I’ll show later, security-focused wearables and other personal tech offer interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Regulatory framework

As the personal security industry in the GCC continues to expand, regulatory bodies have introduced new guidelines to ensure standards of professionalism, ethics, and accountability. These regulations aim to streamline the industry, establishing clear protocols for licensing, training, and operational practices.

For those based in the UAE, a starting point should be Federal Law No. 37 of 2006 Concerning Private Security Companies. It covers licensing requirements, qualifications for security personnel, training standards, and the responsibilities of private security companies.

You should also keep up to date with any laws that pertain to the specific Emirate in which you hope to operate. For example, in Dubai, the Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA) issues guidelines and regulations for the private security sector to ensure compliance with laws and standards. Understanding the relevant penal codes is also critical when it comes to offences related to trespassing, theft, assault, or any other criminal activities that private security personnel may encounter in the course of their duties.

Finally, data protection laws in the UAE regulate personal data collection, processing, and storage. These laws may have implications for private security companies in terms of handling individuals’ personal information.

Opportunities for entrepreneurs in personal security

In the UAE, the National Security Institute is in place to elevate the country’s private security sector, engaging experts from around the world to conduct research and implement best practices in legislation, security training, and cultural understanding. So, there is clearly momentum in this growing sector.

To my mind, there are three key approaches when thinking about the personal and private security industry for entrepreneurs:

  • New market segments: The personal and private security industry in the UAE encompasses a wide range of sectors, including residential security, corporate security, event security, VIP protection, and surveillance systems. Entrepreneurs can target specific market segments based on their expertise and niche offerings. While it’s established that HNWIs are driving this expansion, and that’s clearly where the most obvious opportunities lie. It’s also worth looking at what you might be able to offer at a more affordable price point for individuals who may not have previously felt that personal security was within their budget. Whether you are trained in personal protection yourself or working on a product or service that sits within the sector, looking for new market segments can be a way of finding a niche from which you can grow.
  • Tech: There has been a notable increase in new security products, many of them affordable to the average person. There are a number of apps that can run on regular phones. Noonlight is one great example, a simple-to-use application that allows you to log the moment you feel unsafe, with the app then contacting the local authorities if you don’t respond within a set time. Alongside apps, there is a growing number of hardware solutions, including wearables such as necklaces and bracelets, specialist satellite messengers (if you disappear while off the grid), and super-discreet buttons that attach to your keychain and can be pressed when you feel in danger. This is an area ripe for innovation, whether you’re making solutions for individuals or larger-scale products for security companies.
  • Events and exhibitions: The UAE is one of the world’s prime locations for events and conferences. At any point during the year, there are numerous exhibitions attracting a huge influx of visitors and delegates. Entrepreneurs can seize opportunities to provide event security services, crowd management solutions, and technology demonstrations during these gatherings. This is in addition to attendees who may require protection for the duration of their stay.


The evolution of personal security in the UAE and wider GCC underscores a shift towards discretion, sophistication, and technological integration. While the region maintains its reputation as one of the safest in the world, the burgeoning demand for security services reflects a proactive approach to personal safety and risk management. As the industry adapts to meet evolving needs, it remains poised for sustained expansion and innovation in the years to come.

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