Space Exploration: Across the final frontier
The UAE space sector is a regional benchmark today with achievements including running 57 space-related establishments, empowering women to take on important roles and sending the country’s, and the region’s, first astronaut to the International Space Station
On the UAE’s 48th National Day, we are proud to witness the country’s rapid growth in various industries, including the space sector. We celebrate this special occasion with immense pride as we see our space industry establish a strong position in the global space sector.
In the 1970s, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan articulated his vision of the UAE as a pioneer in space. Since then, we have been working steadily to grow our capabilities in space, and over the past few years since the UAE Space Agency’s founding, our space sector has grown to become the leader in the regional sector. This has shown the entire world the limitless ambition and talent of the UAE’s people when it comes to advancing our understanding of the universe through space science, research and exploration.
On this special day for the UAE, we are honoured to see how the UAE now serves as a role model for every young emerging spacefaring nation. We have achieved great success in a short period of time, and we are grateful to our wise leadership for their continuous support, which has enabled the UAE to thrive and stand out worldwide- Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Director General, UAE Space Agency
We have set big goals, and with the support of our leadership and the motivation of our people, we are on the right track to achieving these goals. Space exploration will help us become a better nation through building human capabilities, which will support our development of advanced technologies for the benefit of humanity. This will also, by extension, accelerate the diversification of our national economy.
Within a few years, we have been successful in establishing a regulated space sector, similar to any leading spacefaring nation. Our space sector now has legislative and structural frameworks consisting of a comprehensive National Space Strategy, National Space Policy, Space Law, as well as a Space Investment Promotion Plan. In such a short time, our national space sector has also made incredible achievements on different levels, to a point that it now includes 57 space-related establishments, investments of more than Dh22 billion, 1,500 rewarding jobs, four space science and research centres, more than 30 international partnerships, 10 satellites in orbit, and outstanding space education programmes that prepare Emirati youth to lead the space sector in the future.
We have also been successful in inspiring and enabling Emirati women to contribute to our national space sector. At the UAE Space Agency, women represent around 45 per cent of our employees and across our national space sector they make up 35 per cent of the workforce. Women’s involvement in the space sector enriches and contributes to its success.
In the past few years, we have achieved major milestones in the space sector that will shape the future of the UAE. We are currently working on major space exploration projects that will also play a major role in advancing our knowledge of space and the Earth for the benefit of the UAE and the entire region.
Last September, we witnessed the successful launch of the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, to the International Space Station (ISS), which was a historic achievement for the UAE space sector. This major milestone took the UAE’s space sector to the next level of space exploration and scientific excellence, cementing the UAE’s prominence globally.
We are also proud to be leading the first regional and Arab mission to Mars, with the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe, that is due to be launched to Mars in 2020. The Hope Probe, which should further extend the UAE’s leading position in the space sector, aims to develop Emirati capabilities, while enabling a more sustainable future on Earth.
Studying the environment of Mars will help us combat similar environmental challenges on Earth. This project will also serve as a stepping stone for reaching our long-term goals for building Mars Science City that simulates the Martian environment, as well as having a settlement on Mars in 2117.
As collaboration is key when it comes to working in space, we have partnered with local, regional and global entities to accomplish our goals. We have worked closely with leading international space entities to exchange knowledge and collaborate on advanced space missions.
Moreover, earlier this year, we launched the Arab Space Cooperation Group, which aims to enhance the Arab countries’ scientific efforts in the global space sector through consolidating the existing strengths and capabilities of Arab countries.
This reflects the UAE’s efforts in shaping the future of the region through developing the region’s human capabilities and bringing space scientists and explorers together to bring about greater benefits for the Arab world.
We are delighted to see the Arab Space Cooperation Group, which initially included 11 Arab countries, welcome three new Arab countries during a meeting held on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow 2019 in November. We are always keen to work with neighbouring nations to enhance the Arab world’s contribution to the fields of space science, research and exploration. Our region has a lengthy and significant legacy in space, worthy of revival.
On this special day for the UAE, we are honoured to see how the UAE now serves as a role model for every young emerging spacefaring nation. We have achieved great success in a short period of time, and we are grateful to our wise leadership for their continuous support, which has enabled the UAE to thrive and stand out worldwide.