The Signals Intelligence Agency (SIA), formerly known as the National Electronic Security Authority (NESA), is the United Arab Emirates intelligence agency.[1] In response to alleged cyber spying on opponents of Iran's best interests by the government of Iran during 2010 and 2011, the United States assisted the United Arab Emirates in late 2011 with establishing the National Electronic Security Authority (NESA) which is the UAE's equivalent to the US NSA.[2] Created in 2012 through a Federal Decree Law, one of its official objectives is to organize the protection of the UAE's communications network and information systems.[3]


The agency participated in Project Raven, a confidential initiative to help the UAE surveil other governments, militants, and human rights activists. In 2014, Project Raven helped the SIA (NESA at the time) break up an ISIS network in the UAE.[1][4]

In December 2019, The New York Times reported that the SIA or other Emirati intelligence services used ToTok, a messaging app widely used by the Emirati public, to record all conversations, movements, relationships, appointments, sounds and images by the app's users.[5]


In May 2014, NESA launched Cyber Quest, a competition for school and university students.[6][7] As of 2019, CyberQuest is on its 5th edition.[8] And it has several social media accounts that cover the competition including a Twitter account and Instagram Account.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Exclusive: Ex-NSA cyberspies reveal how they helped hack foes of UAE". Reuters.
  2. ^ McLaughlin, Jenna (December 21, 2017). "Deep Pockets, Deep Cover: The UAE Is paying Ex-CIA officers to build a spy empire in the Gulf". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on June 14, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  3. ^ "Federal Decree Law No. 3 of 2012 ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL ELECTRONIC SECURITY AUTHORITY" (PDF). August 13, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  4. ^ "Can a U.N. Report Help Rein in Expansive and Abusive Digital Surveillance?". Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  5. ^ Mazzetti, Mark; Perlroth, Nicole; Bergman, Ronen (22 December 2019). "It Seemed Like a Popular Chat App. It's Secretly a Spy Tool". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  6. ^ "LEARN TODAY, DEFEND TOMORROW". December 1, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  7. ^ "NESA's first ever 'UAE Cyber Quest 2014' concludes with team from Al Hosn School announced as winners of the final day competition". May 28, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Signals Intelligence Agency organises 5th edition of UAE CyberQuest". October 4, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2019.