ABU DHABI // The murder of American teacher Ibolya Ryan as spurred discussion among FNC members about the role and effectiveness of security personnel, particularly in shopping malls.
Ryan was stabbed to death in a women’s toilet near Waitrose supermarket at Boutik Mall on Reem Island on December 1.
Several FNC members have used Twitter to discuss the crime and have called for better security at malls.
Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai), said that “security sense” was an essential quality for security guards, adding that they needed to have the right physique, as well as sufficient self-defence skills.
A user on Twitter replied that some security guards were so weak that “they could not handle a sneeze”.
The topic of security at shopping malls had not been discussed before because Ryan’s murder was the first of its kind in the UAE, FNC members said.
There has rarely been a need for security guards to act quickly under pressure, with the exception of the Wafi city robbery in 2007.
An FNC member said the purpose of mall guards seemed solely to be the provision of directions to visitors. In the surveillance video capturing the moments before and after Ryan’s murder, the suspect is seen talking to security before heading to the ladies’ toilet.
It is believed that she was asking for directions.
“They need to be trained if something happens, to be able to secure the place rather than let people escape,” said Noura Al Kaabi (Abu Dhabi).
Dr Mona Al Bahar (Dubai) said she did not expect security guards to be so powerless, adding that they should be capable of responding quickly.
“I do not blame them. We are in a safe place, we are not used to this,” she said.
But the murder had shown that it was time for security guards to be trained and for them to be empowered to act, said Dr Al Bahar.
“They need to be given powers to act when they deem it necessary,” she said.
The National reported this week that security guards were overworked and lacked power.
Hamad Al Rahoomi (Dubai) said an Emirati, preferably a retired policeman, should be the head of security at malls because they would know how to act in all situations, without difficulties with communication.
Mr Al Rahoomi said Emiratis “would know what to do during a fire, a robbery, when first aid is needed”. It is not a matter of bringing in more security guards, but better trained professionals. “Quality rather than quantity,” he said.
He assumes that the security guards currently on duty were not given effective training. This had to change, he said.