Cybersecurity advisory DarkMatter appoints Karim Sabbagh as firm's new CEO

04 April 2018 3 min. read
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Cyber-security advisory DarkMatter has appointed technology and communications veteran Karim Sabbagh as the firm’s new Chief Executive Officer to succeed founder Faisal Al Bannai.

Effective this month, Sabbagh, who crosses from Luxembourg’s SES, the world’s largest communications satellite operator where he most recently served as President and CEO, will step into the Chief Executive role vacated by DarkMatter founder Faisal Al Bannai, who will in turn switch his attention to strategic direction as the firm’s Managing Director.

“It has taken some time to find the right fit, and in Karim Sabbagh I believe we have found an outstanding professional who will make a great addition to DarkMatter and will bring an additional set of skills and experiences to support the firm’s vision," Al Bannai said, adding that the appointment will allow him to focus on strategic direction while Sabbagh oversees operations.

Prior to his near five-year stint with SES, Sabbagh, who holds a doctorate in International Business Management, spent over 15 years with Booz Allen Hamilton/Booz & Company (now Strategy& of the PwC network), where he ultimately served in the role of Senior Vice President and led the firm’s global communications, media & technology practice – during which time he became an internationally respected thought-leader in the fields of technology and innovation management, with numerous academic and development agency publications to his name.

In addition, Sabbagh chaired the Booz and Company’s Ideation Centre think-tank in the Middle East, and was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Regional Agenda Council on the Arab World, continuing a professional association with the region stretching back at least 30 years, when he first served with the local arm of advertising agency Leo Burnett as an eventual regional director for strategy and operations.Karim Michel Sabbagh, CEO - DarkmatterNow, Sabbagh will bring his wealth of technology business expertise to DarkMatter, a specialist global cybersecurity consultancy headquartered in the UAE which offers end-to-end services for the private and public sectors in cyber risk & compliance, network defence, managed security, advisory, and architecture and engineering. Backed by research and development centres established in Finland, Canada and China, the firm states; “We don’t just implement; we innovate.”

It’s a formula that has to date proven successful, with the 2014-established firm last year doubling its revenue to over $400 million, primarily on the back of UAE government contracts. In line with the rapid growth and ongoing plans for expansion, which the firm has said will include an increased focus on security services for smart cities and blockchain technology, DarkMatter will be seeking to boost its headcount by over a third in the coming nine months.

“Our vision and goals are ambitious and exponential,” Al Bannai said, “As we have set our foothold in UAE, and begun to plan for regional and global expansion, the company will continue to evolve to support its vision, and build its competencies. We have attracted exceptional talent from inception, and with every addition, we have strengthened our ability to achieve our goals.”

Sabbagh said in response to his appointment; “It is exciting for me to return to the vibrant Middle East region having spent a number of years away, and to lead one of only a handful of full-service cybersecurity firms present in the world today. I look forward to contributing to building a global cybersecurity powerhouse in arguably the most significant industry of our time.”

In a reflection of the growing cybersecurity market and its increased importance in the Middle East, the Big Four firm Ernst & Young late last year established a dedicated multimillion-dollar digital security centre in Oman to serve organisations across the MENA region.