The UAE is determined to diversify its economy and invest in high-tech industries that require a skilled workforce that will be a long-term asset to the country.

An important step in this direction was achieved when His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minster of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced that the UAE will build its first locally-made satellite at the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (Eiast).

In the past, the UAE had helped build satellites when it worked in a joint venture with Korean company Satrec to develop DubaiSat1 and DubaiSat2. However, the planned KhalifaSat takes the process into a totally new area of local manufacture as the skills learnt on the earlier projects will be transferred to the UAE for local manufacture and assembly.

The plan is to make the UAE self-sufficient in both constructing and testing satellites by 2015, followed by the launch of the new KhalifaSat by 2017.

Shaikh Mohammad pointed out that this shows how Arabs are moving into the space era, which is neither out of reach nor impossible to achieve. He welcomed sharing the UAE initiative with all Arab countries with interest in space technology and engineering.

Satellite technology, and the aerospace industry in general, is one of the areas that the UAE has made a priority for its long-term development.