People checking the EOS C100 Canon Camera during the Cabsat 2017 Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News

DUBAI: Shaikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Information, opened CABSAT 2017 on Monday morning, an annual event for the broadcast, satellite and entertainment content sectors across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA).

Taking place from March 21 to March 23 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, CABSAT will exhibit technology from the broadcast, production, content delivery, digital media, and satellite sectors.

Shaikh Hasher was guided through the exhibition by Helal Saeed Al Merri, Director General of Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Dubai World Trade Centre Authority.

Last year’s event, the 22nd in its history, saw 13,000 visitors to the exhibition in Dubai.

As part of the satellite segment of the expo, day one of the CABSAT saw the launch of the SATEXPO Conference, featuring keynote speaker Mohammad Naser Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.

In comments at his opening address, Al Ahbabi announced he was now targeting the middle of 2017 for the launch of the UAE’s new space strategy.

“We have been mandated by the government of the UAE to draft policy, strategy, and law. Last year we issued the policy, and God willing, in the middle of this year we will issue the space strategy,” said Al Ahbabi.

The director general also confirmed that KhalifaSat, an Earth observation satellite designed by the UAE, was on track for its launch in 2018.

Separately, in a statement made by Barry Matsumori, Senior Vice President Advanced Concepts, Virgin Galactic, to Gulf News at the event, he described the company’s approach since its November 2014 crash which killed one test pilot as “very careful.”

“I think one thing we’ve learnt since that failed test flight is one needs to be very careful about anything you do in space,” Matsumori said.

He added “we’ve not announced a first flight of our future astronauts, because once you give it a date, you start putting everyone on a timetable, and that’s not the right thing to do. Right now, we need to be careful.”

In his international keynote speech, Matsumori highlighted Fidelity Investments, an American pension fund manager, as an indicator of the fact that space has become a “mainstream investment.”

“It’s remarkable that we’re coming to a point were so many people are willing to invest in space,” he said, adding “Fidelity offers a 401k pension plan, so it’s always looking for safe investments. They have made investments in space technology, as they ultimately see it as a smart and safe diversification of their fund.”