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Press Release

It’s a full house at Black Hat MEA as nearly 10,000 cybersecurity enthusiasts rush to region’s largest and ultimate hackathon event!

12 Dec 2022

•    Black Hat MEA officially opened by His Excellency Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), Faisal bin Saud Al-Khamisi, Chairman of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP) and Steve Wylie, Vice President of Black Hat Cybersecurity Marketing Group
•    Frank Abagnale, the inspiration for movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’ among the heavyweight headliners of the day
•    50 of the world’s greatest hacking teams compete in ‘Capture the Flag’ competition with 700,000 SAR prize fund, while visitors attend seminars, talks, demonstrations, and workshops on everything cybersecurity

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2022: Black Hat, the region’s largest cybersecurity event has started with nearly 10,000 visitors attending to learn more about hacking and how the global industry is preparing to address emerging cyber threats.

The event was officially opened by His Excellency Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), during a welcoming ceremony on the start of the three-day exhibition.

“I consider Black Hat to be one of the most important events in Riyadh Season 2022,” he said. “The largest cybersecurity event in the region, it plays an important part in achieving our Vision 2030 objectives as it champions our pursuit for the best talents in the technology sector and helps cement the Kingdom’s competitive position in the global arena.” 

During his opening remarks Faisal bin Saud Al-Khamisi, Chairman of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP) said that with Black Hat, Riyadh had achieved in one year what took other countries 20 years. “Riyadh has emerged as a major tech hub. We are a nation that is determined, young and with a clear vision, thanks to His Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.” 

Steve Wylie, Vice President of Black Hat Cybersecurity Marketing Group, said it was a huge honor to be back in Riyadh following the success of last year’s inaugural event. “I was so inspired seeing a vibrant cybersecurity community here,” he said. “This gave us the confidence to rebrand the event to Black Hat Middle East and Africa.” This year, Black Hat is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and throughout this time, it has maintained a strong relationship with the global cybersecurity community, he added. 

The first day’s highlights included a host of different activities, seminars, talks, demonstrations and much more. The event has quickly established itself as an attractive destination for industry leading experts in cybersecurity. 

Expert opinion and inspiring talks 

Frank Abagnale, the renowned cybercrime and fraud prevention expert and the inspiration for the Hollywood movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’ told delegates that the type and frequency of cyberthreats was increasing. Phishing attacks whereby the hacker employs social engineering to gain access to sensitive information were on the rise. 

“There is no technological way to defeat social engineering apart from education. However, I can go onto almost any company, building, home or location and find soft spots that hackers can exploit,” he said. “With just your date and place of birth a hacker has 98 percent of the information they need to steal identities. That’s why you should always be very careful about the type of information you put on social media.” He advised people to pay for purchases with credit cards while being aware of individuals or organizations that ask for money immediately or request information from them at some point, potentially months after first getting in contact.

Neil J. Walsh, Regional Representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Eastern Africa, joined Brenno Andrade Silva, Head of Cybercrime Unit, Brazilian Police for a panel session on legislative environment and cyber diplomacy with a geopolitical focus. The panel was moderated by Betania Allo, Cyber Attorney, Counter Terrorism from United Nations. During the discussion Mr Walsh said that there was a general misconception that cyber-crime was a problem in the West. In fact, there were high levels in the Middle East and Africa. 

By learning from best practice around the world and applying these insights in other countries, businesses, individuals and governments will be far better prepared to deal with the issue. He attributed the current difficulties to a lack of human capacity and limited training and exposure.

Fun activities, competitions and workshops

Visitors on the first day also got the chance to enjoy a Capture The Flag competition organised in collaboration between Black Hat MEA and SAFCSP. The contest brough together over 1,000 participants including 50 of the world’s best hacking teams as well as amateurs to strengthen their ethical hacking skills related to the Web, PWN, Forensics, Reverse Engineering, crypto and more. This year it was run in a jeopardy-style for both the qualification and finals with a prize of 700,000 SAR prize fund up for grabs at the end of the event.

The public got the chance to take part in a lock picking competition where they are given 35 seconds to pick as many locks as possible. Those taking part were first taught how to do so during a workshop being run as part of the lock picking village in the activity zone. Multiple rounds are being run everyday during the event.

The conference runs from 15 to 17 November at the Riyadh Front Exhibition Center and features more than 250 exhibitors and over 200 speakers this year. International tech giants such as Cisco, IBM, Spire, Infoblox and others have a significant presence showcasing new technology and services.

The conference has been organized as part of a strategic partnership between and Informa Markets, the largest events company in the world, to highlights the Kingdom’s investments and growth in cybersecurity and the digital space.

For more details about Black Hat Middle East and Africa, please visit: 

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About Black Hat Middle East and Africa

Black Hat Middle East and Africa will be the largest cybersecurity event in the region and feature the most powerful speaker faculty of any technology show in its first edition. It is co-created between Informa and The Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones. Informa, itself the largest exhibitions company in the world, is responsible for delivering many of the most recognised brands in events.

About The Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones

‏A national institution that aims to empower the local workforce and enhance their capabilities in the fields of Cybersecurity, Software Development, Drones and Advanced Technologies based on the best international practices. Its vision is to have a programmer among every 100 Saudis by 2030, and its mission is to empower and build the next generation capabilities in the field of advanced technology.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Lara Bahous
Hill + Knowlton Strategies 
+966 50 6670631