The Strategic Framework Plan of the UAE Space Agency, which was unveiled on Monday in Abu Dhabi in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE will establish the first Space Research Centre in the Middle East. The project costing Dh100 million is expected to give a boost to the country’s initiatives in space including the Hope Probe, the Mars Mission planned for 2021.

This was announced as part of the Strategic Framework Plan of the UAE Space Agency, which was unveiled yesterday in Abu Dhabi in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“The establishment of a fully-fledged space sector in the UAE, with all necessary human resources, infrastructure and scientific research, is a primary national objective. It requires everyone involved to work as one team to establish the UAE’s leadership in this sector and to build advanced scientific capabilities in the space domain,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

“The Hope Probe and the UAE Space Agency are milestones for the development of the UAE,” he said.

Dr Charles Elachi, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “The UAE’s Hope Probe to Mars will not only advance human scientific knowledge and strengthen the UAE’s technological capabilities; it will also provide inspiration to all the young people in the UAE and throughout the Arab world.”

The ceremony, held in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, detailed, among other programmes and initiatives, the UAE Space Agency’s four strategic goals.
The first is to develop and guide a world-class national space sector that serves the country’s highest interests, contributes to a diversified national economy and supports sustainable development. The second is to promote scientific research and innovation to support the state’s scientific progress in space sciences and technologies. The third is to attract and promote national resources to become space scientists and technology pioneers. And the fourth objective is to build and enhance international cooperation and partnership in a manner that serves the national space sector and that provides administrative services with high quality standards and transparency.

Degree programme

Shaikh Mohammad also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to launch a graduate degree programme in Advanced Space Science for the first time in the Middle East.

The MoU was signed by Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Orbital ATK Inc. These  three entities, with coordination and oversight from the UAE Space Agency, will launch the academic programme at Masdar Institute.

Shaikh Mohammad also observed the first-ever Airbus Little Engineer Space Workshop. More than 100 students from UAE public and private schools took part in the educational workshop, organised by the UAE Space Agency in cooperation with Airbus Group.

Dr Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the agency, said the Space Research Centre is the result of a strategic partnership between the UAE Space Agency, UAE University and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority represented by the ICT [Information and Communication Technology] Fund.
The centre will act as an incubator for space research, development and innovation at the federal level. “To that end, the agency will coordinate with a number of agencies, including the Emirates Mobile Observatory,” Al Ahbabi said.

Over the course of this year, the agency will select 20 students as an academic delegation travelling overseas and within the UAE. This educational mission will be in partnership with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and the ICT Fund.

Dr Khalifa Mohammad Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said the value of the UAE’s investment in the space sector today exceeds Dh20 billion. That investment is represented by the UAE’s space-based communications systems, data services, satellite TV broadcasting, mobile telecommunications industry and other space-based industries and technologies. The agency is training Emiratis to become world leaders in the space sector in accordance with the UAE’s message to the world “that Emiratis are willing and able to take on any challenge”.

The UAE Space Agency organised a mini museum, which begins today and aims at enhancing knowledge about the space industry.

— With inputs from WAM