Estonia's Cyber Defense Unit and the Cultural Relevance of a Volunteer Cyber Defense Unit in the UAE

  • Khaled Memari

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Cybersecurity is fast-becoming synonymous with national security. As critical resources and infrastructure migrate to the cyber sphere and, relatedly, cyber threats proliferate, states such as the UAE finds themselves a prime target of attack by malicious state and non-state actors. In order to combat this array of threats successfully, various states have adopted novel methods and developed unique organizational models such as the Estonian Defence League's Cyber Unit (EDL CU), also known as the Cyber Defence Unit (CDU). The CDU is composed of volunteers who fulfil roles mandated and sanctioned by Estonia's parliament related to the country's cybersecurity. Given the success of such a model in prosecuting Estonia's cyber defense, this thesis questions to what extent Estonia's CDU may provide a relevant model for the UAE in terms of cultural relevance. Using a mixed method approach of semi-structured interviews and data from Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, the thesis finds that Estonia's CDU is a highly relevant model for the UAE despite a short, but nonetheless strong history of Emirati volunteerism. That is, an Emirati CDU could potentially be established in three ways: when issues of power distance and risk avoidance are taken into account, when titular UAE leaders become invested in the idea, and/or as a reaction to a largescale cyberattack by an external state similar to that suffered by Estonia in 2007.
Date of AwardMay 2019
Original languageAmerican English


  • volunteerism
  • cybersecurity Estonian Cyber Defense Unit
  • Estonian Cyber Defense League
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • culture
  • Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory

Cite this