Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi Heads first UAE Space Agency Board Meeting of 2024

23 April 2024

The UAE Space Agency Board of Directors held its first meeting of 2024, headed by His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, to discuss the latest updates in the national space sector. The Board members reviewed the most prominent strategic projects managed by the Agency to develop this sector and enhance its contribution to the national economy.

The meeting drew the participation of His Excellency Faisal Al Bannai, His Excellency Dr. Mubarak Saeed Al Jabri, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, His Excellency Omran Sharaf, His Excellency Saeed Al Zahmi, His Excellency Ali Al Neyadi, His Excellency Yousuf AlShaibani, His Excellency Masoud Sharif, Eng. Amal Al Hammadi, and Eng. Mohamed Alkarbi, His Excellency Salem Butti Al Qubaisi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, and His Excellency Ibrahim Al Qasim, Deputy Director-General of the UAE Space Agency.

His Excellency Dr. Al Falasi said: “We are committed to elevating our nations standing within the global space sector by continuously developing national space science capabilities. We are also working on strengthening strategic cooperation frameworks with our local and international partners in implementing key space missions in line with our strategy of fostering impactful scientific and technological achievements that benefit humanity.”

He added: “Space investment is an investment in the nation and its children’s future, as this vital sector represents a key driver of innovation and creates new and diverse opportunities for sustainable economic growth. It also contributes to nurturing homegrown talent capable of strengthening the country's competitiveness in all fields in line with the ambitious goals set by the UAE’s leadership in various national strategies and plans, most notably the UAE Centennial 2071.”

His Excellency Salem Butti Al Qubaisi said: “Our objective is to keep on broadening our scope of space exploration projects. We aspire to draw in a greater pool of skilled talents, providing them with robust training, and fostering the development of their expertise across space sciences and other fields. This concerted effort is geared towards ensuring the sustainability and continuous advancement of the national space sector, both in the immediate term and in the long term.”

The meeting covered several topics, including space regulations and legislation. The participants also reviewed the UAE Space Agency’s plan to carry out the necessary oversight and inspection work in cooperation with the relevant UAE authorities. The aim is to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Federal Decree by Law No. (46) of 2023 to regulate space activities and other activities related to the space sector.

In addition, the Board members examined the developments of the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA), a pioneering venture that aims to explore and study multiple asteroids within the main belt, spanning a remarkable 13-year timeline over two phases. The first phase involves spacecraft development over six years, followed by the second phase – a seven-year flight to the main asteroid belt, located beyond Mars.

Finally, the attendees discussed the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) Hope Probe, which provided the international scientific community with more than 4.1 terabytes of data on the Martian atmosphere through the Science Data Center, and contributed to publishing more than 270 scientific papers. The Board members highlighted the importance of expediting the development of national talent and providing the necessary training and qualifications to enhance its competitiveness and explored ways of empowering local private sector companies and organisations and supporting Emirati startups.

The UAE space sector stands as a beacon of progress in the region, with total investments soaring to approximately AED40 billion. Notably, commercial spending in the field has surged by 29.51% compared to the previous year, accompanied by a robust 7.73% increase in the sector's overall value.

The UAE Space Agency has launched the Space Economic Zones Program, aimed at establishing six specialized zones within the country. Serving as accelerators for startups and SMEs, these zones seek to boost the national space sector through a range of economic incentives and initiatives. The program has garnered the support of 13 strategic partners, with over 180 companies actively participating in the last two years.

Additionally, the Agency has set up the National Space Fund, valued at AED3 billion, which is poised to galvanise investments from entrepreneurs and private sector entities, fuelling the financing and facilitation of future space projects.

In tandem with these initiatives, the UAE Space Agency has demonstrated its commitment to nurturing homegrown talent. In the last few years, it employed 70% of National Space Academy graduates within the space sector as part of its strategy to invest in qualifying specialized national cadres.