A Framework for regulating The Cyberwar within the UAE

  • Mohamed H Al-Kuwaiti

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Many nations, including the UAE in particular, are increasingly dependent on information technology for military and civilian purposes. The more dependency of a nation on information technology the more damage it could suffer in case of cyber attacks. Various political conflicts had leveraged cyber domain to conduct cyber attacks against nation states. However, can these attacks rise to the level of an act of war and justify the use of military forces? No doubt that they can cause various economical and political impacts; yet, no destruction similar to the ones associated with traditional wars has been reported. Nevertheless, nations with challenges in the cyber domain in term of their resources, capabilities, and experience such as the UAE still have no clear defensive and offensive cyber strategy. A strategy that provides deterrence to a large-scale cyberwar along with an adequate ethical response to acts of cyber aggression similar to the Just War Theory (JWT) in the conventional war. Consequently, adversaries take an advantage of this and carry cyber attacks in these nations’ domain, which is poorly regulated. Therefore, this research essentially addresses the following two concerns: (i) To what extent can the principles of JWT that determine the traditional war be applied on the modern cyber warfare with respect to the UAE, and with its cyber challenges, (ii) how the UAE can defensively prepare for such cyber war? The research aims to undertake a systematic analysis of literature to develop a theoretical cyberwar framework that explains the relationship between the existing principles of the traditional JWT and the modern cyber warfare. The research stages accomplish this by first illustrating the debates and aspects of the cyberwar. Then, various case studies along with qualitative analysis are presented. After that, new approaches to the traditional JWT principles are explored and subsequently a cyberwar framework is proposed. Finally, a closer look at the UAE and its readiness to initiate a national cyber security strategy with respect to the ITU National Cybersecurity Strategy Guide is conducted. A Stakeholders analysis and 30-minute executive interviews has been carried out for that purpose.Through these stages, the research’s hypotheses have been supported. In particular, cyber attacks originated by state or non-state actors can be considered as an act of war and can cause dramatic political, economic, and physical damages. Accordingly, nations with cyber challenges will always have the right to defend themselves without violating the national sovereignty or territorial integrity of another nation. Additionally, the traditional JWT principles specifically aggression, discriminations, and proportionality can be applicable to the cyberwar only in certain circumstances where high aggression is inflicted and the attacker’s attribution is identified. Moreover, the ITU cyber security strategy can be applied and adopted by the UAE as the basis for its National Cyber Security Strategy. In conclusion, the analyses reveals that cyber security policy making has become a national priority and relies on holistic strategies supported by stronger leadership which aims to drive economic and social prosperity along with protecting cyberspace against threats.
Date of AwardJun 2014
Original languageAmerican English


  • Cyber Security
  • Cyberwar; United Arab Emirates
  • Information Technology
  • Critical Infrastructure.

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