RIYADH: The Kingdom is planning an SR8 billion ($2.1 billion) boost for its space program as part of Vision 2030, said Saudi Space Commission (SSC) Chairman Prince Sultan bin Salman.
The commission has finalized a plan for the government, expected to be revealed later this year, under which the sector’s budget would receive an initial boost of SR2 billion.
“In the time where we live now, space is becoming a fundamental sector of the global economy, touching every aspect of our lives on Earth. Space business and space economy are expected to grow into the trillions of riyals as we go forward,” Prince Sultan said.
The commission was set up by a royal decree in late 2018 to stimulate space-related research and industrial activities.
“We believe there are a lot of opportunities that exist in the space sector and we, in Saudi Arabia, intend to tap these opportunities at all levels,” he added.
Prince Sultan, who chaired the Saudi Commission on Tourism and Heritage for 18 years, said the Kingdom aspired to become a global player in the space industry while advancing prospects for future generations.
The Saudi space sector’s current return on investment is SR1.81 or every one riyal invested. This compares with a return of between SR7 and SR20 for every riyal invested in the sector in advanced economies, according to SSC data.
SSC plans to sign agreements with international agencies in the US, Russia, China, India and the UAE to boost cooperation, said Prince Sultan, who flew aboard the US Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985. He was the first astronaut from an Arab or Muslim country in space.
His duties onboard Discovery as a payload specialist included releasing the Arabsat satellite, which was a breakthrough in connecting the region with the rest of the world.
Saudi Arabia is a main founder and financier of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat), launched in 1976, with a 37 percent stake.