Mohammed Bin Rashid Witnesses The Launch Of Strategic Plans Of UAE Space Agency

26 May 2015

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today witnessed the launch of the Strategic Plan for the UAE Space Agency in Abu Dhabi.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid was joined by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister.

"The establishment of a fully-fledged space sector in the UAE, with all necessary human resources, infrastructure and scientific research, is a primary national objective. It requires everyone involved to work as one team to establish the UAE’s leadership in this sector and to build advanced scientific capabilities in the space domain," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.

"The Hope Probe and the UAE Space Agency are milestones for the development of the UAE. Today, we are at the dawn of a new era that holds the promise of ambitious advancements; an era in which we build our national capacity and establish a new international standing for the UAE in the space sector. Building a new space sector that is integrated and comprehensive is a value-added step for our national economy, technical knowledge, human capital, and international reputation", Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.

The ceremony, held in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, detailed the strategy of the UAE Space Agency with a programme including the Agency’s mission, vision and priorities for the future. The event also introduced a number of initiatives and programmes being carried out in line with the Agency’s four strategic goals. These UAE Space Agency initiatives will pave the way for the UAE’s entrance into the global space sector as the Agency works to organise and support the space sector in the UAE.

Along the side-lines of the event, Their Highnesses, ministers, representatives of government agencies, national leaders and representatives from international space agencies toured the Space Experience and Exhibition Area, which includes a "Mini Space Museum" organised in cooperation with the Global Space & Satellite Forum (GSSF). The GSSF aims to strengthen awareness of the space sector and is being held from 26-27 May 2015 in Abu Dhabi. The forum will highlight a number of international programmes and experiences in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Missions and the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Mir Space Station.

His Highness also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Orbital ATK Inc. The agreement between the three entities, with coordination and oversight from the UAE Space Agency, marks the launch of a joint venture to introduce a graduate degree programmein Advanced Space Science for the first time in the Middle East. The programme, which enjoys the support of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will allow students to earn a Master’s Degree in Engineering with a Focus on Space Systems and Technology.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid observed the first-ever Airbus Little Engineer Space Workshop. More than 100 students from UAE public and private schools took part in the educational workshop, organised by the UAE Space Agency in cooperation with Airbus Group.

In his introductory speech to attendees, the Chairman of the UAE Space Agency His Excellency Dr. Khalifa Mohammed Al Rumaithi said, "The United Arab Emirates was founded upon the great hopes and aspirations of its founders to be a world-leading nation. Under the guidance and leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, those hopes and aspirations have been made a reality."

"The UAE’s focus on space is no mere impulse or whim," Dr. Rumaithi added. "The UAE’s path to space dates back to 1976, when the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan met the NASA team responsible for the Apollo Moon programme. That meeting inspired nearly three decades of efforts guiding the UAE towards space and will be realised with the arrival the Hope Probe at the red planet in the coming years."

"The UAE has developed a long-term strategic plan to create a solid and sustainable foundation for a society based on science and knowledge," Dr. Rumaithi said. "This in turn will lead to advanced discoveries and innovations in the space sector, stimulate the economy and affirm the UAE’s place as an international player in this pioneering sector."

Dr. Rumaithi went on to note in his speech that the value of the UAE’s investment in the space sector today exceeds AED 20 billion (USD 5.4 billion). That investment is represented by the UAE’s space-based communications systems, data services, satellite TV broadcasting, mobile telecommunications industry and other space-based industries and technologies. Dr. Rumaithi pointed to the pivotal role of the UAE Space Agency in organising this growing sector and in training Emiratis to become world leaders in the space sector in accordance with the UAE’s message to the world: that Emiratis are willing and able to take on any challenge.


The UAE Space Agency’s Director General, Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, said: "The UAE Space Agency has drafted its strategic plan in line with the vision of the wise leadership of the UAE and the UAE Vision 2021 aimed at establishing the UAE as one of the world’s leading countries in time for the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the nation."

Dr. Al Ahbabi noted that the UAE Space Agency’s focus on human development would be a true pillar of future progress. Over the course of 2015, the UAE Space Agency will select 15 gifted students as an academic delegation traveling overseas and within the UAE. This educational mission will be in partnership with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Fund. The UAE Space Agency will work with educational and academic bodies to use the concept of space as an inspiration and encouragement for students to embark on the study of science and technology in order to contribute to the UAE’s journey toward space.

Dr. Al Ahbabi also revealed that the agency is working on the establishment of the first Space Research Centre in the Middle East. The centre, which will cost nearly AED 100 million over five years, is the result of a strategic partnership between the UAE Space Agency, UAE University and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority represented by the ICT Fund. The centre will act as an incubator for space research and innovation at the federal level. To that end, the UAE Space Agency will coordinate with a number of agencies to implement the Emirates Mobile Observatory projects, to help enrich research and innovation in the field of space.

The UAE Space Agency indicated that the strategic plan was part of an overall vision of "proudly crafting the future of the United Arab Emirates as a leader in space, and to inspire future generations for the benefit of the nation and humankind." This goal is backed by its mission in organising and guiding the space sector, contributing to the national economy and sustainable development, preparing generations of highly skilled professionals, and developing space research, programmes and strategic partnerships.

The UAE Space Agency’s strategic plan consists of four main objectives. The first is to develop and guide a world-class national space sector that serves the country’s highest interests, contributes to a diversified national economy and supports sustainable development. The second is to promote scientific research and innovation to support the state’s scientific progress in space sciences and technologies. The third is to attract and promote national resources to become space scientists and technology pioneers. The Agency’sfourth objective is to build and enhance international cooperation and partnership in a manner that serves the national space sector and that provides administrative services with high quality standards and transparency.

The UAE Space Agency will create international partnerships to develop the national space sector in order to contribute to and facilitate knowledge transfers of Space technology. The agency also aims to represent the UAE in international conventions and programmes, the application of space technology, as well as contributing to space conferences and seminars within and outside the UAE. Moreover, the Agency will lend a helping hand to the tech sector in utilising space science and technology in the UAE. It will also provide consultation and technical support for all space sector stakeholders in the UAE.

Within the framework of those objectives, the strategic plan will be built on five pillars: Emirati pride, integrity, excellence, commitment, cooperation and innovation.

The UAE Space Agency’s plan contains a number of initiatives, programmes and activities that the Agency team will implement. To that end, key performance indicators have been put in place to match real-world performance with the goals of each initiative and program. Among the most important initiatives is working with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre and the Hope Probe team to deliver the Mars orbiter project on time, within budget and in accordance with industry best-practices.

The UAE Space Agency’s programmes concentrate on creating the organisational and legal framework for the space sector as well as its development and guidance. Moreover, these programs will support national efforts in the space sector, develop youth talent and increase public awareness about space.

Ex- NASA scientist and Apollo missions team member Dr. Farouk El-Baz said: "I would like to congratulate all citizens of the United Arab Emirates for what has been achieved by this young nation in less than half a century.

"Many people may not know that the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, cared greatly about space and the scientific results achieved from the Apollo trips."

El-Baz highlighted that he first met the late Sheikh Zayed in June 1974 following the end of the Appollo lunar exploration mission. He went on to meet Sheikh Zayed two more times along with astronauts from the Apollo missions to explain their missions.

He added: "UAE leaders have continued to be interested in identifying the secrets of the universe through space expeditions. The most important thing that becomes clear from all of the above is that the UAE intends to realise the hopes of Arabs everywhere."

Samer Halawi, CEO of Thuraya Telecommunications Company, underlined Thuraya’s commitment to supporting the UAE Space Agency. Mr. Halawi commented on the inauguration of the UAE Space Agency strategic plan, saying: "We are proud to be part of the UAE’s effort to place itself among the leading countries for satellite technology and the overall space sector. We strongly believe that the UAE is ready to lead the way."

He added: "The UAE has come a long way in the space sector. Thuraya Telecommunications provides mobile satellite communication and data services to 160 countries. There is also YahSat for satellite communications, data transfer and broadcasting services, in addition to the Dubai Sat System. All of these achievements lead us to believe that the UAE will continue develop its abilities here on Earth and will have a valuable contribution to space science in order to serve humanity, which will earn the UAE pride of place in the international space sector."

Yahsat CEO Masood. M. Sharif Mahmoud commented: "Space is proving to be a major economic driver here in the UAE, and for nations elsewhere. Through the UAE Space Agency, the country has developed a long-term strategic plan to create a solid and sustainable foundation for advanced space innovation and exploration – a plan of which we are proud to be part.

''We remain confident that our collective industry experience and cutting-edge technology will continue to provide an excellent platform to launch the next phase of growth for the industry across the Middle East. This is only the start of the UAE’s satellite and space adventure, and Yahsat is wholly committed to the rest of the journey."

The UAE Space Agency will join the international space community to support space exploration and the international scientific community. The Agency will also oversee the development of the space sector in the UAE through the management and coordination of space-related activities.

The UAE Space Agency has developed its strategy in support of three main objectives stipulated by Decree No. 1 of 2014 issued by the His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of UAE. That legal decree established the UAE Space Agency as a federal authority reporting directly to the Cabinet with financial and administrative independence. These three objectives comprise the development of the UAE Space sector, the development of policies for space-related activities and the promotion of space projects that will benefit the UAE economy.


The UAE Space Programme focuses on utilising local space technology, enabling Emirati scientists and engineers to focus on knowledge transfers, and establishing a basis foran integrated educational structure. Led by the wise vision of the UAE leadership, this vision aims at developing human capital in industrial, research and academic institutions that are the basis upon which sustainable development is built.

The UAE Space Agency indicated that the efforts made towards capacity building would set an example and outline the initial features of the UAE’s experience in the space sector. Under the supervision of a national authority, this advancement in space technology will be employed to serve various development programmes. The Hope Probe to Mars is one such example of a scientific platform for future development in the space sector.

In line with UAE’s first steps in space, the UAE Space Agency will continue in its efforts to attract talented students in the UAE in order to nurture their talents in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).The UAE’s initial steps will include contributions to satellite technology as well as working with agencies like NASA and European Space Agency to train the new generation of engineers. Building on these investments, the UAE will be able to realise its development goals.

The UAE Space Agency’s strategy to discover these talents will include invitations to apply for research scholarships and awards for sharing ideas, designs, experiences, missions and goals. Likewise, the agency will empower UAE students to consistently achieve success in astronomy and space in advanced countries such as the United States, European countries, Republic of Korea and Japan, through educational institutions and regional agencies.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said: "We applaud the initiatives of the UAE Space Agency as it officially launches today. Space offers the opportunity for inspiration, discovery and progress. The aerospace industry is driving economic growth and technological innovation around the world, and the UAE is at the forefront of these trends."

The inaugural Airbus Little Engineer Space Workshop will challenge some 100 students aged 15 - 17 to carry out a simulation of a launch mission to space. The workshop focuses on introducing students to the world of space exploration and enhancing their understanding of the benefits and applications of space technology. Over the course of four hours, students will assemble and launch a rocket, set up a base and establish communications. In addition to its direct scientific applications, Airbus Little Engineer Space Workshops will help students practice soft skills including teamwork, communication, critical thinking, public speaking and creativity.

The Airbus Group Little Engineer initiative aims at instilling a passion for science at an early age and encouraging students to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through a series of exciting, hands-on workshops.

The workshops will also be offered as part of the Global Space & Satellite Forum 2015, which is officially hosted by the UAE Space Agency and will continue for three days at ADNEC.

The UAE plays a key role in the advancement of space activities in the region Francois Auque, Head of Space Systems at Airbus Space, said: "The UAE, in a very short span of time, has played a key role in the advancement of space activities in the region. As the UAE embarks on a historic mission to Mars, we are convinced that it will become a major contributor to the development of space technologies for the future. This leap forward is poised to create a legacy that will benefit generations to come not just in the Emirates, but across the Middle East region. As an organisation with technical know-how and a long-term commitment to this region, it was only natural for us to collaborate with the UAE Space Agency and introduce the Airbus Little Engineer initiative here to make a lasting impact and instil a passion for science and technology among the youth of this nation."

The UAE Space agency has organised a mini museum in cooperation with the Global Space and Satellite Forum,which aims at enhancing knowledge about the space industry by shedding light on space adventures.

The little museum, carried out along the side-lines of the launch of the UAE Space Agency Strategic Plan, coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Missions and the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Mir Space Station. The museum highlights the efforts of these missions and their contributions to human knowledge.

The museum showcases models of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project missions in addition to original tools used during the missions including headsets, a USSR stamped document signed by Alexey Leonev, and the Fisher Space Pen. The Museum includes letters written by the astronaut Donald Deke Slayton and plastic and glass models of the Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 spacecraft.

Earlier this month, the UAE revealed the scientific and technical details and timeline of the UAE Hope Probe, which will be launched to orbit and study Mars and is scheduled to arrive in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s founding. The probe will be made by a team of Emirati engineers and scientists in cooperation with prestigious scientific and research centres around the world.

The UAE project to explore Mars is the first Arab project of its kind, and will demonstrate that the Arab world is capable of enriching civilisation and human knowledge. The Hope Probe will also prove that enthusiasm, confidence and ambition can lead to success, despite the hardships the Arab world is facing. It is also a real model to be followed by other nations and to inspire the people of the Middle East.

The Hope Probe will stand as a symbol of hope and as a source of inspiration for new generations to look for a future filled with opportunity.

Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, said: "The UAE’s Hope Probe to Mars will not only advance human scientific knowledge and strengthen the UAE’s technological capabilities; it will also provide inspiration to all the young people in the UAE and throughout the Arab world "

The UAE Space Agency is hosting the Global Space & Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2015. Taking place in Abu Dhabi from 26 - 27 May, the 5th GSSF will bring together more than 400 C-level executives, senior decision makers and government officials from the space and satellite sector.

The event will discuss topics such as space technology applications, innovative solutions, low-cost satellite developments such as miniature satellites, and how satellite systems are improving lives – ranging from life-saving developments in disaster management to the delivery of entertainment media via handheld consumer devices.