UAE Space Agency Celebrates Remarkable Achievements During Fifth Anniversary

15 July 2019

Celebrating its 5th anniversary, the UAE Space Agency highlighted its remarkable track record to the nation, in a ceremony that took place in Abu Dhabi.

The celebration was attended by His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency; His Excellency Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency; UAE Space Agency board members and employees; government officials; stakeholders from a variety of sectors; and local and international partners.

His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, said: “Realizing the importance of the space industry, our wise leadership established the UAE Space Agency in 2014. The Agency rapidly assumed a leading role in the development of the UAE’s space capabilities and has enabled the UAE to launch complex and challenging projects to the benefit of humanity.”

“The UAE's space industry is the largest in the region with expansive research projects, as well as the best infrastructure, governance, policies, and regulations. Talented Emiratis are working tirelessly to achieve our ambitious national objectives, cement the UAE’s leading position in space, and improve life on Earth through the development of advanced technologies and the pursuit of new scientific discoveries in space,” added H.E. Dr. Al Falasi.

“The support provided by our nation’s visionary leadership has empowered young Emirati talents to excel and build upon our already strong foundations. We have overcome significant challenges over the past five years, and I have no doubt that we will face and surmount new ones in the future,” concluded H.E. Dr. Al Falasi.

Zayed's Dream

His Excellency Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, said: “Today we celebrate half a decade of ambitious growth, achievement and historic success, supported by the vision of our wise leadership and the expertise of our people. We are working to achieve ‘Zayed’s Dream’ and lead the way to an ever-brighter future.”

“Over the past five years, we worked to diversify our nation’s economy by providing an investment platform for the UAE’s space sector, and by educating the next generation of space scientists, astronauts and researchers. We also developed the policies, laws, and regulations that govern the space sector to enhance the UAE's position globally as a destination for commercial space activities, space science and the research and development of new technologies,” concluded H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi.

Regional and Global Leadership

The UAE’s space industry has grown and matured significantly, highlighting the capabilities of skilled Emirati professionals.

The UAE Astronaut Program is one of such projects, launched to cement the UAE’s position as a global leader in the industry. The program aims to send the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) by September 2019.

Today, the UAE has one of the largest space exploration programs in the Middle East and North Africa. The Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe aims to study Mars and its atmosphere, Mars Scientific City will enable new kinds of research on terraforming, and the Mars 2117 project envisions the establishment of a human settlement on Mars within the next century.

The UAE’s space industry, represented by the UAE Space Agency, has garnered the respect of global space agencies and organizations. The UAE Space Agency is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), and recently joined the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) initiative.

The Agency also supported and contributed to the launch of ten advanced satellites, including Al Yah 3 and KhalifaSat, ushering the UAE into a new era of space manufacturing. Today, MeznSat is under development, and will be launched by the end of 2019, to study the UAE’s environment and provide advance remote sensing capabilities.

Exceptional Year

The UAE Space Agency has finalized the legislative and legal frameworks of the national space sector. During the first quarter of 2019, the UAE Cabinet, chaired by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, adopted the National Space Strategy 2030. The Strategy aims to provide guidelines for all stakeholders and operators in the space sector on the methods of realizing the sector’s ambitious goals as outlined in UAE Vision 2021, the National Innovation Strategy and the National Space Policy.

In addition, the Federal National Council approved the Federal law regulating the space sector, making the UAE among the first countries to adopt a comprehensive set of space regulations. The UAE Space Agency also launched a national plan for promoting space investment to increase the national space sector’s contribution to economic diversification and attract new forms of foreign investment to the UAE.

The UAE Space Agency’s regional cooperation efforts culminated in bringing together neighboring Arab states with the launch of the Arab Space Coordination Group; the first of its kind to unite 11 Arab states. The Group aims to enhance the Arab region’s position internationally by combining Arab capacities and human capital to work on joint space exploration projects. The Group will also establish capacity development programs designed to educate the next generation of space pioneers. The UAE was unanimously voted to chair the Group.

The Group will first focus on developing satellite 813, following the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The satellite will be funded by the UAE Space Agency as a gift to the Arab world. The satellite will be built by young Arab engineers from the 11 member countries. The satellite will be built at the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) in Al Ain, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Satellite 813 will be built over a period of three years, with an estimated life span of five years. It will have a polar orbit of 600 kilometers and will send data to a ground station in the UAE and sub-stations in other Arab states to benefit all stakeholders, including environmental, municipal, agriculture and urban planning entities.

In March 2019, the UAE Space Agency organized the second edition of the Global Space Congress, the largest gathering of space leaders in the MENA region. The Congress welcome the leaders of international space agencies, CEOs of space and aviation companies, representatives of governmental entities and academics. The Congress tackled key space-related issues including policies, strategies, new space projects, and cutting-edge technologies in space exploration, in addition to methods of developing qualified human capital.