• 800 audit professionals familiarize themselves with the most prominent challenges of the profession
  • Three-day gathering discusses future of AI, digitization and cyber security, digital trends, emerging risks and risk monitoring
  • Ethical hacker Terry Cutler to set up shop in UAE to support local businesses

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The 20th Annual Regional Audit Conference (ARAC), the largest smart conference for internal auditors, organized by the UAE Internal Auditors Association (UAE IAA) concluded successfully with overwhelming participation from global experts, the who-is-who of internal audit, government officials and a large number of internal audit professionals from across the world.

“It was beyond our expectation that the internal audit professionals could be engaged with experts and professionals at a time when internal audit is subject to revolution and transformation with the advent of technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blockchain and data analytics,” said  Abdulqader Obaid Ali, Chairman of the Board, UAE IAA.

“This year’s conference is marked by the widespread participation as evidenced by the fastest recovery to business as usual powered by the resilience of the UAE economy, guided by our leadership. This encourages us to embark on new projects and initiatives to attract young Emiratis to the profession by expanding our Hassaad Program aiming to graduate 500 Emiratis to internal audit career.”

“The success is mainly due to the wholehearted and unstinted support and cooperation of our sponsors,” Abdulqader said.

The organisers honoured the sponsors such as KPMG, Bee'ah, Protiviti,  PricewaterhouseCoopers, ANB, Beinex, Empowered Systems, Asight and Arbutus. Emirates airline was the official carrier and Happenize was media partner. Excelledia, ZeeDimension and Diligent were exhibitors.

Terry Cutler, CEO, Cyology Labs Canada and Ethical Hacker, said: "I am really thankful to UAE IAA officials for the opportunity to come and speak with everybody and it was pleasure to share my knowledge with the internal auditors who can now do their jobs ever better. The profession is having a tough time keep up with the new challenges in cyber security. This forces the industry to get information from IT which may not be complete, but they need more professional support from cyber security experts. The mindset of the small and medium size businesses is that they are too small to be hacked, but they should understand that it is all about monetary purpose, and the hackers target small businesses with ransomware and extort money from them, which could bankrupt them."

Cutler said CyologyLabs is planning to set up shop in the UAE  and a strategic partner has already approached the ethical hacker. "We are in discussion with them and plan to extend our services to the businesses here once we set up a facility here in the UAE," he said.

The takeaway from the conference is that internal auditors could hear from the experts such as Jordan Belfort, American author, The Real Wolf of Wall Street, motivational speaker and former stockbroker; Henrik Stein, Former President of European Confederation of the Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA); and Terry Cutler, CEO, Cyology Labs Canada and Ethical Hacker.

It was a great experience for the audience to learn from them global good practices, the latest in data analytics that is shaping the internal audit practice in line with technology disruption.

“Abdulqader’s call embrace technology to do our job more effectively and efficiently has been well heeded and we are now determined to hone our skills in tandem with the emergence of new technology as we know that we have to be agents of change for our organisations,” said a participant.

“In a new world where the banks are competing with global technology companies rather than their peers, internal audit functions should also transform themselves to stay relevant. But this can only happen via going back to the fundamentals defining why they exist, rather than using fancy terminology and a tech jargon” said Volkan Pekince, Group Chief Internal Audit, Dubai Islamic Bank.

Panel discussions and workshops covered topics such as:  Digital, Cyber Security and Resilience Trends; Tech Talk: Reimagining Digitization of the Information Security World; Building a Successful Competency Framework for Auditors; “Auditing the new world of AI & automation… and your place in it.”

The other major topics discussed at the conference include: Cracking the Code: Emerging Risks; Re-imagining Risk Management; Building a modern audit function: A Take-to-enterprise Road Map; Cracking the Code: Digital Risk / Cyber Security; Procurement fraud; Balancing product sustainability against business profitability: Sustainability reporting practices and corporate governance; Regulatory compliance; Robotics Risk Monitoring; Audit transformation with data analytics; Audit Department’s Road Map to Success.

UAE IAA, a non-profit organization, was set up in 1995 along the lines of its parent body, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA Global) which has 200,000 members from more than 190 countries and organizations. The UAE accounts for about 45% of the total number of internal auditors working in the region, estimated at about 7,000 auditors, of which 22% are Emiratis.


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