TAKING THE RIGHT STAND
Gulf Business|February 2021
The UAE’s flexible and proactive legal system is helping the country tackle issues such as cybercrime while also keeping an eye on the future, says Emirati lawyer Youssef Al-Bahar
AARTI NAGRAJ

FOLLOWING IN HIS FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS WAS NOT A DIFFICULT CHOICE FOR YOUSSEF AL-BAHAR.

The Emirati national is a passionate lawyer, and currently serves as the executive director of Al-Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants in Dubai – the company founded by his father. An international certified arbitrator and regular columnist in the local media, he describes his job as a “noble profession”, which supports the application of justice in society.

In an exclusive interview, Al-Bahar rattles off the history of the profession as proof that this is an industry that has evolved significantly over time and will continue to remain relevant far into the future. “The legal profession is one of the oldest professions in the history of mankind, with its beginning in the era of the ancient Egyptians and gaining further importance during the reign of Babylonian king Hammurabi, from 1792 to 1750 BC,” he elaborates.

“The formula at that time was that a person submits to another’s authority to bring him innocence from his grievances, in the form of simple defence, as not every human being has the ability to defend himself. After that, the profession began to develop in the later stages of time, up to the modern era, when unions and associations were formed that are governed by clear and organised laws.

“Also, this profession has been affected by political, social, and religious changes, the systems and methods of governance in different countries, and the way the judiciary is viewed and the extent of its independence. Every country applies the law that suits it, and it is our duty as lawyers to work on application of laws in the interest of achieving justice, defending our clients and reaching the truth,” he explains.

An important requisite for the legal industry is to keep pace with the rapid changes in society. In the GCC, the last year saw several laws being introduced or amended, covering aspects from Covid-19 relief and company ownership to tax and labour regulations.

Combating cybercrime

But one aspect that has gained particular importance in recent years – in line with the boom in the digital economy – has been the challenge of cybersecurity. The global cost of cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2020 annual cybercrime report. That is further anticipated to rise by 15 per cent annually over the next five years to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, according to the report.

Looking locally, over 80 per cent of organisations in the UAE reported at least one cyberattack in 2019, a survey of 150 senior IT executives in the country by cybersecurity company Proofpoint found. Over half of the organisations also reported multiple incidents, it stated. Meanwhile a report by Trend Micro predicts that UAE’s home networks, remote working software, and cloud systems will be at the centre of a new wave of cyberattacks in 2021. Trend Micro systems detected a combined 13,100,616 email, URL and malware cyber-threats during the first half of 2020, according to its Midyear Security report.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), cybercrime is a growing concern to countries at all levels of development and affects both buyers and sellers. While 154 countries (79 per cent) have enacted cybercrime legislation, the pattern varies by region: Europe has the highest adoption rate (93 per cent) and Asia and the Pacific the lowest (55 per cent), it states.

“The evolving cybercrime landscape and resulting skills gaps are significant challenges for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, especially for cross-border enforcement,” it adds.

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