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Airbus is known far and wide for its aircraft, but it does make satellites too. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: UAE’s first home grown satellite operator Thuraya has signed a contract with Airbus to build next-generation satellites, Thuraya’s CEO Ali Al Hashemi said during a webinar on Thursday. It is scheduled for operation in 2024.

Thuraya, a unit of Mubadala’s Yahsat, offers communications solutions to a variety of sectors including energy, government, broadcast media, maritime, military, aerospace and humanitarian NGO.

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Airbus will build a next-generation satellite for Thuraya. The project will involve an investment of $500 million, along with an option to launch it from Asia.

It will be funded from the cashflows of Thuraya and parent company Yahsat “both on the government side as well as the commercial side,” said Thuraya CEO Ali Al Hashemi.

“We are at only the beginning of the mobile data revolution… going forward Thuraya will focus on capturing the biggest share of mobile internet data services. 

The global satellite services market generated $126.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to garner $144.5 billion by 2026, according to some estimates.

A 13-year trip

“It is great to see one of our companies, Yahsat, which started only 13 years ago, come together and successfully integrate and turn around another homegrown company (Thuraya),” said Khaled Al Qubaisi CEO of Mubadala’s Aerospace, Renewables & ICT platform.

Yahsat was launched to meet growing demand for government, commercial and consumer satellite communication services. Thuraya 2 and Thuraya 3 joined the Yahsat constellation after the company acquired a majority stake in Thuraya Telecommunications in 2018.

The next-generation system will entail an overhaul of its space and ground platforms, thus enabling a new set of services across a greater coverage area. The new capabilities will boost maritime, IoT, and data solutions, and delivered at some of the highest speeds available in the market.