UAE’s space sector has arrived

UAE’s space sector has arrived

United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri in a mock-up of a Soyuz spacecraft at Russian Space Training Center in Star City, outside Moscow, Russia. (AP file photo)

A  mere five years after the founding of the UAE Space Agency, our nation now boasts one of the world’s fastest growing, most advanced and comprehensively regulated space sectors.

This is no small achievement. Working together with partners from across the UAE, the Middle East and the world, we have accomplished the near-impossible — realizing the dreams of millions, including the ambition of the UAE’s late founding father to transform our country into a hub for space science, technology and commercial activity.

We are already witnessing advancements in research and technology developed at our local institutions, such as the National Space Science and Technology Center, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences, and the Yahsat Space Laboratory.

This year alone has been an extraordinary one for the UAE’s space sector. Starting with the Global Space Congress in March, the visit of the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al-Mansouri, to the International Space Station in September, and now the recent launch of the UAE’s National Space Strategy 2030 and Space Investment Plan, we have built on our past success to enable an even brighter future for the sector and our people.

This incredible pace of development and ceaseless achievement shows no signs of slowing; if anything, it is quite the opposite. Next year is set to be a historic one for the UAE’s space sector, and one that also serves as a remarkable milestone for the significant socioeconomic development and technological advancement we have achieved as a nation.

Over the past five years, we have taken the UAE’s nascent space industry, which was composed of a few satellite operators, and, through a concert of efforts across education, regulation, innovation and cooperation, grown it into a sector that now includes 57 space-related establishments, investments of more AED22 billion ($5.9 billion) and 1,500 rewarding jobs.

The UAE’s space sector has arrived, and we are one step closer to becoming a truly international leader in utilizing space for the benefit of humanity.

Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al-Falasi

We have brought together our regional Arab neighbors under the Arab Space Cooperation Group to share knowledge, best practices and experience, and have developed and implemented a comprehensive national space policy, a space law, and a space investment promotion plan that highlights why the UAE is one of best countries in the world in which to invest in space.

With these milestones, along with every other accomplishment of the past five years, we have built a world-class space program.

In March, the UAE Cabinet, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, launched the National Space Strategy 2030. The launch of this strategy is not merely another milestone for the sector or our country, it is a turning point.

The strategy and our investment plan demonstrate that we know where we are |going and how we are going to get there.

We will continue to work together with the international community and form partnerships for knowledge sharing. But, unlike five years ago, we are now mentors as often as mentees.

Emerging nations around the world have recognized the benefits of establishing a vibrant space sector and, when it comes to looking for examples of other countries that have built a world-class space sector from the ground up, the UAE is a leading example — we are a role model.

It was not an easy path. We faced numerous challenges and we would not have succeeded without the support and visionary guidance of our nation’s leadership, as well as the dedication and tireless efforts of countless talented Emiratis across the UAE.

That being said, the launch of the National Space Strategy 2030 and Space Investment Plan provide us with the opportunity to be proud of what we have achieved, as well as the chance to reflect on what comes next.

The UAE’s space sector has arrived, and we are one step closer to becoming a truly international leader in utilizing space for the benefit of humanity.


• Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al-Falasi is UAE Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency.

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