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Belgium seeks to boost relations with UAE in space field

Brussels holds weeklong activities in UAE

  • Dominique Mineur, Ambassador of Belgium to UAE said she hoped the UAE would join the International Space StatiImage Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News
  • Dominique Mineur, Ambassador of Belgium to UAE, during an interview at the Rixos Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: Brussels is hoping to boost its relations with the UAE in the space sector, and is also hoping that UAE will join the International space station in the near future, the Belgian Ambassador to UAE said.

Speaking to Gulf News during the Belgium weeklong activities in UAE, Ambassador Dominique Mineur explained that both countries share many characteristics and that is why there is room to boost bilateral cooperation.

“We are countries of similar size, similar ambitions, similar populations, [and] similar, I would say, diversity. Brussels and Dubai are the most international cities in the world,” she said quoting press reports categorising Dubai as the most international city in the world followed by Brussels.

“So, we have lot of common points. We thought maybe we can go and cooperate in the sector of space ... it is really great to see someone like Belgian astronauts coming to UAE,” and be received with “enthusiasm” and “emotional moments”, she explained.

The Belgium delegation included astronaut Fran De Winne who visited Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and Sharjah Centre for Astronomy & Space Sciences, as well as Zayed and Sharjah Universities.

Achieving big goals is not limited to big countries, Mineur said, “small countries can do things”.

“Nothing is impossible and that was the main message I think,” she added of the Belgium week.

The week, which will conclude next Sunday, is the first of its kind to be organised. It comes as a follow up to the visit of Princess Astrid, the representative of King Philip of Belgium, to UAE in March 2015 leading a 7-minister and 400-businessperson official delegation.

After that visit, brainstorming sessions were held with the Belgium Business council about the sectors that are of importance to the UAE, and which Belgium can focus on.

The European country, which is known for its chocolate, diamond, certain medical specialisations, including fertility treatment and orthopaedics, is seeking to build strong relations with the UAE in the space field.

While Brussels is interested in sharing its experience in space with UAE, it expects from UAE, “to join us in this quest for space research. I think, they have great potential... [for the UAE] to be in this loop of international arena,” she said in reference to the International Space Station. It includes European Space Agency (ESA), Japan, US and Russia. “We need the UAE to join us and that is important, and I know they can do it very soon.”

With nearly 3,500 people, the Belgium community in the UAE is the biggest Belgium community in the Arab world. The majority of them live in Dubai and work in different sectors, including engineering and construction. For example, BESIX Belgium Construction Company was involved in major projects in UAE, including the Canal, Burj Khalifa and building the new ADNOC towers, Mineur said.

According to official figures, the bilateral trade between the two countries reached 6 billion euros (Dh23.3 billion) in 2015, with diamonds coming at the top of the trading list.