Just how ready are the UAE's telecom operators for disasters?

Sada Al Barq exercise tasked telcos with recovering from a tropical tornado strike.
UAE, TRA, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Services, Disaster, Tech, Society, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Connectivity

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The ‘Sada Al Barq' exercise tested the disaster readiness and business continuity of the UAE telecom operators.

The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has overseen an exercise to test the readiness of UAE telecoms operators for business continuity in a disaster.

The ‘Sada Al Barq' exercise, which was organised by the TRA, was intended to test how the telcos Etisalat and du could respond to a simulated disaster.

The exercise was conducted within the framework of the initiative ‘Telecom business continuity in emergency, crisis and disaster'.

The TRA established an integrated training camp at Etisalat Academy that included teams from both Etisalat and du. The exercise was conducted in a hypothetical scenario, where a tropical tornado accompanied with thunderstorms across the country prevented telecom employees from reaching their workstations, and also affected transmission networks.

The joint teams responded immediately and formed groups whose pre-defined competencies focused on maintaining telecommunication services from the main operations management center setup at Etisalat Academy camp by TRA.

The exercise included the main stages of response to a natural disaster, starting from prevention, to preparedness, to response and finally recovery. This exercise is an ideal model for securing and protecting the vital telecom sector, by providing an effective communication network in difficult and challenging circumstances. Furthermore, the exercise also included establishment of a customer service centre within the camp; stationing mobile vehicles equipped with transmission stations for mobile phones; providing equipped mobile service centers to facilitate provision of services to the customers, including maintenance services for mobile and fixed lines, home internet and others.

Eng. Saif Bin Ghelaita, Acting Deputy Director General for Telecommunication Sector in TRA, said: "The sixth Sada Al Barq exercise is an important element in the ICT sector readiness system to respond to emergencies as it directly supports the directions of TRA to join forces with various parties to ensure continuity of services in this sector in such circumstances.

"The Sada Al Barq exercise combines two modules, a table exercise and a field exercise. During the two days of the exercise, the participants were exposed to obstacles aims at exploring the opportunities for improvement in relevant plans and procedures, in addition to moving the mechanisms and equipment, and establishing integrated centers to simulate and emergency situation that could require transforming the employees into temporary working stations."

Bin Ghelaita said that the exercise confirms the need for skilled personnel and national capacity to be able to deploy disaster recovery and business continuity centres.

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