article image

United Arab Emirates launches country's first space agency

Kulvinder Singh, News reporter
May 26, 2015, 23:51 UTC

Sen—The United Arab Emirates officially opened the country's first space agency—and the first in the Persian Gulf—on Monday May 25 in Abu Dhabi, under the patronage of the country's Vice President and Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The country will join the international space community in promoting space exploration and research. It is already developing a probe to Mars.

The agency's official launch included a vision for its future, outlined in a statement by its Chairman, Khalifa Mohamed Al Romaithi: “The UAE Space Agency aims to be an embodiment of the ambitious UAE Vision 2021 strategy. We will be an international role model, uniting our nation behind our inspiring goal of being a leader on the space frontier.” Vision 2021 is a proposal for the UAE to lead the world in sectors such as education, healthcare, environment and judicial systems.

The aims of the UAE Space Agency are to develop the space sector, create space policy and regulation, and direct national space programs that will benefit the country's economy. The agency's mission statement says it will organise and guide the country's space sector and contribute to the national economy via sustainable development. It will achieve this by preparing generations of highly-skilled professionals and by developing space research programs and strategic partnerships, such as the one announced in April this year with the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).

The agency's Director General, Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, said in a statement: “The setting up of the UAE Space Agency marks a turning point in the nation’s development by establishing space technology as a new driver for diversified economic growth. Our vision is to launch space projects that will help the development of the UAE’s economy, support local, regional and international space study and technology and create exciting learning and career opportunities for our people.”

At the heart of the this strategy is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), based in the city of Dubai and founded by the government of UAE in 2015. The centre has already successfully launched the Earth-observation satellites DubaiSat 1 and 2, and will launch a third, KhalifaSat, in 2017. It also has responsibility for the upcoming unmanned Mars mission, slated for launch in 2021.