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This paper builds on important insights that emerged at the recent international Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) workshop on MENA cybersecurity (a cooperation between the KAS Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean and the KAS Country Office Lebanon), which took place on the 4th to the 5th of April in Beirut. Participants in the workshop included high ranking representatives of politics, military diplomacy and the private sector.
It has only been quite recent that the MENA region started to concern itself with comprehensive debates on the issue. Most of the region's national cyber security strategies (if existing) are younger than a decade old, and governmental authorities in charge of national cyber security are being established gradually in recent years.
The topic is still nascent in the region, and therefore often discussed one-sidedly. There is a notable tendency to approach cyber security as a mere technology issue - accordingly the states approaches to the pressing issue consist of buying technology instead of comprehensive problem solving.
The KAS included the often overlooked political context of cybersecurity in the Middle East, aiming to raise awareness about the relevance and all-encompassing nature of the topic. The workshop included topics ranging from cyber warfare, cybersecurity with regard to elections and disinformation campaigns, and domestic/international legal efforts. A new focus was added to traditional debates by emphasizing the geopolitical implications of this new domain of interaction - a domain observing rapidly increasing popularity for new and old actors in the region.