UAE Attends International Space Symposium In Colorado For First Time

19 April 2015

UAE space industry leaders addressed international peers at the 31st Space Symposium in Colorado, USA, last week. Heads of the UAE Space Agency, Thuraya, Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) gave an overview on the developments of the space sector in the UAE and the impact it is having on the nation’s economic growth and strategy for the future

Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency,  outlined the Agency’s objectives and progress. He noted that the Agency is working on raising space awareness in the UAE and on encouraging the brightest and best talent to work in the space sector. This focus on education will cover both universities as well as STEM education at high school level, and will be an important part of the Agency’s human capital development initiatives in the country.

Dr. Al Ahbabi explained why the UAE space agency is working with international organizations on cooperation within the space industry and how this will help build solid relationships with global space players. The Director General emphasized the fact that the space sector will contribute to economic diversification and sustainable growth in the UAE.

Attendees to the forum were also introduced to the UAE Mars project, and its mission to be an international project from the UAE to deliver new scientific contributions to humanity. The project received great support from all those present .

As a federal government entity, the UAE Space Agency plans to encourage the advancement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that work in the space and satellite sector in the UAE. This task will play a key part in the Agency’s commitment to innovation and technology. The UAE panel discussion also shed light on bilateral US-UAE relations and increasing trade between the two countries.

Samer Halawi, CEO of Thuraya, provided a summary of the company’s successful transformation and industry leading performance over the last four years. He described how Thuraya leads innovation within the satellite industry with products like SatSleeve, and how it creates new market segments and distribution channels. He also referred to the success of new products in 2014, including handsets and maritime terminals, and how the market has responded positively to these new products. Finally, Halawi introduced the company’s Young Innovation Internship Program which was launched in 2014 with the aim to encourage young Emirati men and women to pursue careers in the satellite industry.

Panellists noted that the space sector will expand the UAE’s human capital through knowledge transfers from international partners, as well as increasing national capabilities and knowledge about space exploration and distant planets.

Dr. Al Ahbabi commented: “The UAE space sector contributes significantly to the development of our nation and I’m honored to be able to communicate the advantages that this industry is bringing and our strategy moving forward. The UAE Space Agency is committed to coordinating and regulating the space sector, as well working closely with key space stakeholders on enhancing the industry in the future. We are delighted to be able to tell the story of the UAE and for the international space community to see our mission and vision.”

Samer Halawi, said, “We are proud to be participating alongside the UAE’s expanding space and satellite industry during the 31st Space Symposium. Thuraya was the first satellite operator to be founded in the UAE and has since welcomed not only the addition of two home-grown satellite operators, Dubai-sat and Yahsat, but also the UAE Space Agency. We are proud to support the UAE’s mission to be a center for space and satellite excellence.”

Yahsat shared its success story as a UAE company providing customised satellite solutions for government as well as the commercial sector in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Central and South West Asia.  Speakers from Yahsat highlighted how the company is now in the top 10 satellite companies in the world in terms of revenue— connecting 600 million people across more than 140 countries.