UAE Space Agency Signs MoU With The Italian Space Agency

26 January 2016

The UAE Space Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) aimed at strengthening joint strategic cooperation between the two agencies in the short and long terms. The MoU was signed during a visit made this week by a high-level delegation, including representatives from ASI and the Italian Embassy in the UAE, who met with key actors in the UAE space sector.

The visit complemented the terms of the agreement approved by the two sides during a visit made by the UAE Space Agency to ASI last year shortly after the founding of the agency.

The MoU promotes cooperation in various aspects of space exploration, including space science, technology, services, and applications, as well as the exchange of space experiences, studies, and research. In addition to this, the MoU encourages holding visits, scientific conferences and lectures, and training and rehabilitation sessions for specialized staff, all of  which contributes positively to supporting the space programs in the two countries.

HE Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: "The UAE and Italy have longstanding business and cooperation relations in various sectors and areas, and this cooperation in the space sector further reinforces the relationship between the two countries. We are pleased to welcome the Italian Space Agency to the UAE and introduce it to the UAE space sector and the main actors in it.

"The MoU falls within the framework of the strategic targets of the UAE Space Agency. These targets are aimed at building and developing global partnerships that can contribute to supporting the Agency's various programs, namely in the field of space exploration, and the training and rehabilitation of specialist cadres in the space sector."

Al Rumaithi added: "We discussed with our Italian counterparts opportunities to develop aspects of cooperation in areas of common interest and future prospects. These will benefit the state's space exploration program considering the vast experience and long history of the Italian Space Agency in this field."

Professor Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, said: "We met in Italy last year to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and partnership between the two sides in the space field. I am pleased that we were able to achieve this on the ground and that today marks the launch of this vital cooperation."

He added: "We were introduced today to the UAE's ambitious space program. We are proud to be partners with the UAE in achieving its objectives in this sector."

The meeting included a detailed presentation by Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency on the UAE space sector and the state's strategy, objectives, initiatives, and programs in this field, in addition to the strategic priorities for the next phase.

Al Ahbabi also gave a details  of the educational and Master's programs that have been launched in cooperation with a number of universities and specialized institutes in the UAE and abroad. He stressed the importance of developing local human resources in the space sector and allowing them to advance on the professional level, which is a key priority for the Agency, and which will help itachieve its objectives in the long term.

Al Ahbabi talked about the "Hope Probe" mission to Planet Mars, an Emirati international project aimed at serving all humankind. The project was widely welcomed by the attendees.

He added: "We look forward to working with the Italian Space Agency given its extensive experience in the satellite, space communications, earth observation, and data transfer field, in addition to scientific training. This strategic partnership will allow both countries to develop their capabilities in the space sector, and to work on joint satellite and scientific programs that will benefit all humanity."

"While the UAE is preparing to enter the space exploration race and to send a mission to Mars by 2021, through this agreement we will be able to participate in scientific programs and missions with one of the most important space agencies in the world."

The visit schedule included a lecture at Higher Colleges of Technology – Abu Dhabi Men’s College.

During the lecture, Al Ahabi spoke about the reasons behind the UAE entering the space sector despite the challenges. He considered the sector to be a bridge for the future and a platform for innovations and to encourage students to pursue STEM education.

The lecture also included a keynote speech by Professor Roberto Battiston, who gave the audience a glimpse of mankind’s history in space reflecting back on Italy’s contribution. He spoke on the Philae probe on Rosetta mission, and ExoMars in 2016 planned for 2016 and how it can help the UAE’s mission.

The lecture concluded with a presentation by astronaut Maurizio Cheli, who spoke about his career and how he first entered the space sector. Cheli showed several videos of the time he spent on the International Space Stations and being on board a space shuttle.