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The UAE Space Agency celebrates third anniversary

Emirati settlement on Mars in 2117 will help solve earth’s problems

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Dr. Khalifa Mohammed Thani Al-Romaithi (Centre) former chairman of UAE Space Agency recieves a memento from Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi(Left) Minister of State for Higher Education and Chairman UAE Space Agency, H.E Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi (R) Director General UAE Space Agency during 3rd year Anniversary held at Dusit Thani Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s Mars 2117 project, which will see Emirati settlement on Mars within 100 years, will help solve many crucial problems like scarcity of water and food on earth, a senior official said in an interview with Gulf News on Sunday.

“Mars has always been there in the world’s imagination. The UAE Government has a clear vision on its Mars mission and our youth are excited about it,” said Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency on the sidelines of the third anniversary celebrations of the agency in Abu Dhabi. Senior officials including Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Chairman of the Agency attended the event.

The UAE announced on February 14, 2017 that it would build the first city on Mars in collaboration with specialised international organisations and scientific institutes. The new project will be associated with research themes featuring the exploration of transportation means, energy and food on Mars.

Al Ahbabi said the government was well informed about the potential benefits of the UAE’s Hope probe that will send the Arab world’s first spacecraft to the red planet in 2020 to study the Martian atmosphere and factors contributing to dramatic climate change. “Then, why not use those gains to solve some of our challenges on earth, especially in the Middle East? Not everybody understands this idea,” he said.

Unfortunately, we in this region share some similarities with Mars … there is scarcity of water and food [on Mars and in this region],” Al Ahbabi said.

Hence, the UAE way of using technology to produce water and food has to be replicated on Mars. Mars also does not have natural resources like rivers. Extreme climatic conditions are also similar, the official pointed out. The research to meet such challenges on Mars as part of Mars 2117 project will help solve similar problems in the region, the official said.

He said the regular talks about solutions to water scarcity in the region may not make it a compelling case.

“But when we say we go to Mars and we want the best scientists to come out with solutions to such problems, it attracts everyone’s attention.”

The camera on your mobile phone is such a contribution from the space sector, the official said.

Such a small camera was originally invented for spacecraft and later it was found that it could be used on mobile phones.

“This is the same concept. You do research on space and find solutions to problems on earth. Likewise, the Mars 2117 project can find solutions to many challenges,” Al Ahbabi said.

This is very similar to what India, a developing nation making big progress in the space sector, is doing.

“People ask why India is spending billions on space programmes, while its people are sleeping on the streets. But the Indian Government says they are doing so to solve problems on earth,” he explained.

The event highlighted the agency’s most important accomplishments since its establishment in 2014.

Dr Ahmad Abdullah Belhoul Al Falasi said the UAE Space Agency has become the largest agency in the region to oversee a modern space programme.

The agency has become a model and a standard for countries seeking to launch ambitious space programmes and agencies.

Commemorative stamp on UAE Space Agency unveiled

A special commemorative stamp was unveiled by Empost to recognise the establishment of the UAE Space Agency and its achievements over the past three years.

The Dh3 stamp has a space background, also picturing Mars and the Hope Probe to be launched in 2020.

Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, said the stamp highlighted the UAE’s ambitions towards Mars by detailing the Hope Probe, which has spearheaded national space exploration programmes.

The agency also launched a new website, with a modern, interactive and user-friendly design that highlights its various missions and departments.

Al Ahbabi said that timing of the new website launch reflected the expansion in services and initiatives being undertaken by the Agency — from space activities and industry regulations to educational programmes that raise awareness and build national capacities.

The site, available in both Arabic and English, serves as a window for the public to familiarise themselves with the agency’s programmes and projects, including space exploration projects, astronomical observation events, satellite programmes, licensing of space activities and recording of space objects.


UAE to have collaboration with almost all global agencies by this year

The UAE Space Agency will establish official collaboration with all prominent space agencies across the world by the end of this year, a senior official told Gulf News in an interview on Sunday.

The agency has already signed 16 international Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) to formalise collaboration in space exploration and knowledge exchange. These include national space agencies of the US, UK, Japan, South Korea, Russia, China, India, Italy and Algeria, among others, said Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency on the sidelines of the third anniversary celebrations of the agency in Abu Dhabi. Five more agreements will be signed by the end of this year with the agencies of Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, he said.

Over the past three years, the agency has developed laws and regulations governing the national space sector. The National Space Strategy was announced in 2015 and the National Space Policy in September 2016.

The agency also drafted the laws governing the space sector, which is under the consideration of the council of ministers. “It is under the due process and will be announced before the end of this year,” Al Ahbabi said.