Institute of International and Civil Security

Institute of International and Civil Security

Security is the insurance policy of the nation. It is a responsibility that we all must share. The MA in International and Civil Security program at Khalifa University will prepare you to be a leader in this field.

The 21st century combines the promise of great progress with the resurgence of old dangers and the emergence of new ones. Those dangers include terrorism, warfare, weapons of mass destruction, and natural disasters. Some of these dangers are rooted in technology, others in society, and still others in nature itself. Attaining the strategic vision of the UAE will require deep understanding of those threats, and the knowledge and skills to address them.

This unique Master’s Program is being offered by Khalifa University’s Institute of International and Civil Security. The Institutes’ mission is to become a leading academic center for supporting research, teaching and policy analysis in the field of security studies. In addition to what takes places inside the classroom, the institute hosts speakers, workshops, events, and works with other institutions- within government, academia, and the private sector – to advance security research, education, training, and policy-making.

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and are professionals working on their graduate qualification part-time in order to specialise in civil and regional security fields. They work at a range of government agencies, including the police force, military, and government ministries.

Contact Us

Institute of International & Civil Security

Room: 213, F Building, Khalifa University
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E


M.A in International & Civil Security

An MA in the Institute’s International and Civil Security Program has been designed to:

  • To provide current and future security professionals with sophisticated knowledge of the UAE, regional and global security environment.
  • To provide current and future security, diplomatic and intelligence professionals with the skills to produce, analyze and implement security-related research and policy.
  • To apply higher education and research towards enhancing UAE, regional, and international security.

Knowledge Outcomes

Our graduates will demonstrate and employ:

  • A sophisticated knowledge of the international, national, and regional security environment.
  • The Institute’s graduates will also possess a firm theoretical, historical, political and cultural foundation upon which to construct and analyze nuanced, implementable and sound policies in relation to conflict, natural or manmade disasters, civil security and foreign relations.
  • Sophisticated knowledge of natural and human caused threats to international, national, regional, and civil security.
  • An understanding of the relationships between and within the different levels of government and the private sector relative to international, national, regional and civil security.
  • Sophisticated knowledge of offensive and defensive technologies relevant to international, national, regional, and civil security.

Skill Outcomes

Our graduates will have demonstrated:

  • The quantitative and qualitative research and analysis skills needed to contribute to the security field as practitioners, researchers, policymakers and educators.
  • The written and verbal skills needed to effectively communicate within the field of international and civil security.
  • The organizational skills needed to contribute to the security field as practitioners, researchers and educators.
  • The skills to apply appropriate technologies to support national, international, and civil security.


Dr Athol Yates

Assistant Professor and Acting Program Chair

Dr. Ashley Rossiter

Assistant Professor

Dr. Athol Yates

Assistant Professor

Dr. Brendon Cannon

Assistant Professor

The Institute of International and Civil Security (IICS) comprises a number of scholars whose publications and research relate directly to our MA program and civil and international security-related issues. They include works utilizing a variety of historical, political science, sociological and economic methods and methodologies.

British Records research from the Trucial States period
Researcher: Dr. Athol Yates

This project involves researching natural and technological disasters that occurred from the 1820s to the 1960s in the area (British Trucial States) that would eventually become the UAE. The research involves a systematic review of British Records held at the National Center for Documentation & Research in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Yates’s research was recently profiled in The National newspaper

The City of Mosul in Post-Saddam Iraq
Researcher: Dr. Ash Rossiter

This research project has two objectives. Firstly, it aims to show the significant influence Iraq’s second largest city has had on events in Iraq since 2003. Secondly, it demonstrates how local political dynamics can help to explain current developments in Mosul and can assist us to anticipate this vital city’s future trajectory.

Why al-Shabaab Attacks Kenya: Questioning the Narrative Paradigm
Researcher: Dr. Brendon Cannon

This article questions the current narrative paradigm and argues that al-Shabaab attacks Kenya for strategic and highly rational reasons, beyond sharing a border and having bases in southern Somalia closer to major population centers than Ethiopia or Uganda. Al-Shabaab targets Kenya more than other frontline states because of the opportunity spaces linked to Kenya’s international status and visibility, its relatively free and independent media that widely publicizes terrorist attacks, highly-developed and lucrative tourist sector that provides soft targets, the comparatively high number of Kenyan foreign fighters within the group’s ranks, the presence of terror cells in Kenya, expanding democratic space, and high-levels of corruption. These variables play into al-Shabaab’s motivations and aid planning and execution of terrorist acts that aim to fulfil the group’s quest to survive by maintaining relevance.
** This article has been accepted for publication in Terrorism and Political Violence and was co-authored with Dominic R. Pkalya at Kisii University, Nairobi, Kenya.

UAE national security development
Researcher: Dr. Athol Yates

This project involves examining the modernization of UAE security organisations and processes. This includes examining the drivers for reform, the adaption of international best practice, and the success of reforms. His work focuses on the following:

• UAE security forces including (1) Dubai Police (1956–), (2) Abu Dhabi Police (1957-), (3) Northern Emirates Police Services, (4) Abu Dhabi Defence Force (1965–76), (5) Ras al-Khaimah Mobile Force (1969–96), (6) Dubai Defence Force (1971–96), (7) Sharjah National Guard (1972–76), (8) Umm Al Quwain National Guard, (9) Union Defence Force (1971–76), (10) UAE Armed Forces (1976-).

• National security machinery of government
• National security policy making
• Civil security organisations, arrangements and policies
• UAE disaster management arrangements

One aspect of Dr. Yates’s research was profiled in The National newspaper

The Saudi-Yemen Border: Transition from Boundary to Frontline
Researcher: Dr. Ash Rossiter

Traditionally, the Saudi-Yemen border has operated more as a theoretical boundary than as a barrier enforcing the division of territory and peoples. This research explores the implications from Saudi Arabia’s reconceptualization of the boundary in security terms. At various times since 2003, Riyadh has set about constructing walls and fencing on the border in attempt to disrupt relatively unhindered movement of goods and people. In recent years, the conflict in Yemen, following Saudi military intervention, has transformed the border into a frontline.

The Political Economy of Terrorism-Related Travel Advisories
Researcher: Dr. Brendon Cannon

Tourism, travel and global geopolitics have become interconnected in mapping global ‘risk’ and threats to security through the mechanism of travel advisories issued by various states. This article aims to explore the political economy of terrorism-related travel advisories, particularly as they adversely affect travel, tourism and research activities. The mechanisms behind this will be defined and deconstructed using a comparative approach with a focus on Islamist terrorist incidents and targets as well as the travel advisories issued (or not issued) for Kenya, Turkey and France.

Catastrophes, Crashes and Crimes in the UAE: Newspaper articles of the 1970s
Researcher: Dr. Athol Yates

Like any country, the United Arab Emirates have had their share of criminals, accidents, natural disasters and downright weird incidents. Most of these events merit a few pages in the newspapers before disappearing from history. Dr. Yates is the editor of this book, which brings the tragic, strange and illuminating stories from the 1970s back to life in a compilation of 168 of the best, drawn from past UAE newspapers – UAE News, Emirates News, Abu Dhabi News and the Gulf Weekly Mirror. The common theme of the articles are that they have all had an impact on safety, security and stability of the UAE. They cover a vast range of topics, from smuggling deaths to murders, from assassinations to plane hijackings, and from mermaid hoaxes to UFO sightings. Together, they provide a fascinating glimpse into the past, and many of the stories still resonate today.

Terrorists, Geopolitics and Kenya’s Proposed Border Wall with Somalia
Researcher: Dr. Brendon Cannon

Published in the Journal of Terrorism Research (2016), this article tests the hypothesis that addressing border security may be a plausible approach for states that suffer from terrorism. Kenya’s border wall is to keep al-Shabaab terrorists out of Kenya. Utilizing a comparative approach, the efficacy of border walls, particularly Kenya’s wall with Somalia is explored. Findings show that walls rarely accomplish stated goals and have unintended consequences. In Kenya’s case, it may reignite border disputes and separate communities. The success of Kenya’s border wall is low given the high levels of corruption and the fact that walls have been demonstrated to only be as good as the people who guard them.

Deconstructing Turkey’s Efforts in Somalia
Researcher: Dr. Brendon Cannon

Selected for publication in Bildhaan: The International Journal of Somali Studies, this article explores the Republic of Turkey’s much-lauded diplomatic and development efforts in Somalia in an effort to deconstruct the reasoning and rationale behind it. This article is among the first to answer key questions regarding the causes and conditions that led to Turkey’s involvement in Somalia and gauges Turkey’s successes and failures there. It also looks at long-term prospects for both Turkey and Somalia and explores the security conundrums faced by Turkey, Somalia and other regional and international actors in regards to Turkey’s forays.