Abu Dhabi: With the aim of promoting space exploration and investment, the Global Space Congress kicked off in the capital today (January 31) in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, also attended the opening of the two-day congress, which is expected to attract about 600 space sector executives and government officials.

The UAE has already invested about Dh20 billion in the space sector, including the launch of a number of satellites. In 2014, it also announced the Hope Mars Mission, which is set to send an unmanned probe to the Red Planet by 2020 and is being carried out by a team composed solely of Emirati engineers.

“We started delving into the space sector 10 years ago as a means to serve our community, and indeed all of humanity. As we go forward, the space industry will become a bigger force for developing our society and the UAE economy,” said Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency.

“We also strongly believe that working together is the best way forward to reap the benefit of space,” he said.

Shaikha Al Maskari, chief innovation officer of the Agency, said the Congress will delve into science, technology and innovation, and explore space as a means to give back to one’s own community.