Complex Made Simple

TRA coordinates the second ‘Sada Al Barq’ exercise to Enhance UAE ICT Sector Safety and Security Standards

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently coordinated the second phase of the ‘Sada Al Barq’ exercise at its headquarters in Dubai.

The purpose of the exercise was to reassess the current ‘National Emergency Plan’ (NEP-T) in place for the UAE’s telecommunications sector and to update procedures to ensure maximum effectiveness in times of emergency and crisis. Establishing the lines of responsibility and increasing levels of coordination between federal and local institutions was also a key focus of the event.

The “Sada Al Barq” exercise comes in line with the National Emergency Plan developed for the telecommunications sector, which provides the necessary foundation for effective and coordinated response to emergencies in the country. The plan is aimed at addressing emergencies that affect or may affect many parts of the infrastructure. The TRA coordinated with the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority to lead the response efforts and manage them. For any emergency that may affect one or more elements of the infrastructure and other national vital facilities, the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority will provide the needed support.

This practice aims to verify the effectiveness of the plans and instructions issued by the Authority, and to ensure the readiness of licensees for emergencies, whether in terms of possessing the necessary capacity to deal with such cases, or in terms of effective communication between the various parts of the system on the management of operations during crisis and emergency.

“The safety and security of UAE telecommunications is a national priority. In order to safeguard telecommunications sector and its critical infrastructure, the TRA issued the National Emergency Plan in 2011. The plan informs strategy and contains an integrated action plan that outlines procedure behind a coordinated response in the event of a national emergency,” said H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, TRA Director General.

“The Sada Al Barq exercise is essential as it enables us to comprehensively review emergency procedure, assess the readiness of concerned parties, identify any weaknesses and ultimately, investigate ways we can improve the plan by leveraging international best practice,” he added.

First issued by the TRA in April 2011, the UAE telecomm sector ‘National Emergency Plan’ was designed to develop an integrated framework for the management of national emergencies. The plan contains a range of measures including internal audits of UAE telecomm companies and the instruction to participate in a series of training programs in order to assess their compatibility with the plan’s requirements.

This is the second ‘Sada Al Barq’ exercise managed by the TRA with the first taking place on June 25th, 2013. This year’s exercise agenda focused how to respond to sabotage attempts as well as which discussing how to roll out procedures to ensure business continuity and the restoration public services such they be affected. A post event report containing procedural recommendations was submitted to the TRA shortly after the event concluded.

During the discussion forums at the event, participants praised approach taken by the UAE in proactively coordinating efforts in this field while expressing confidence in the evident national capacity to respond to potential emergency situations – especially in the field of ICT.