Under the patronage of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the first edition of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate kicked off in Abu Dhabi Monday.
Organized by the UAE Space Agency, with the participation of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the UAE Ministry of Defense, the two-day event is set to witness the attendance of 300 decision-makers and representatives from 47 international space institutions and agencies.
The event focuses on three main topics including space sustainability, space accessibility and space security, UAE national news agency WAM reported.
The conference forms an important new global forum for the space industry, nations, business leaders and policymakers to come together, forge real consensus, and address the issues facing growth and innovation in space.
At a press conference held in the UAE capital on Thursday 17 November, Omran Sharaf, UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Space and Technology Affairs, said: “We’ve seen the space sector go from an area that was accessible to two major nations to a field in which nearly 70 nations have become players, in addition to numerous private companies,” Gulf News reported.
“The UAE is therefore playing a crucial role in ensuring that countries move away from the competitive ‘space race’ and instead work collaboratively to use space research and technology to improve human life,” he added.
For her part, Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, and the chairperson of the UAE Space Agency, said the UAE now has 19 satellites orbiting Earth, with 10 more under development.
“The UAE has already become the fifth country to reach the Mars orbit, and is one of four nations that have announced plans to reach the orbit of Venus, and to explore the asteroid belt beyond Mars, in a mission that is scheduled for launch in 2028. Our nation boasts more than 50 space companies and institutions, and has about 3,000 space experts. There are also more than five space research centers, and three universities with space programs,” Al Amiri said.
Revenues in the global space sector are expected to reach $1 trillion (Dh3.67 trillion) by 2040, and this is expected to drive growth and innovation in the industry. Earlier this year, the UAE Space Agency announced a new Dh3 billion national investment and development fund for the space sector, The National Space Fund.
Sharaf, who is heading the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and is the chief of the Emirates Mars Mission, said the UAE has already demonstrated its desire to drive forward research and coordination in space.
“When we embarked on the Emirates Mars Mission, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, directed us not to start from scratch. He told us to develop on the existing technology, which reduced costs and sped up development while minimizing risks. This helped us propel the technology forward quicker, which is our goal,” he said.
“The space sector is today feeding into the development of many other sectors, including technology, climate actions and sustainability. This creates a need to ensure that it is not exploited, and the topic will be a key part of the discussion at the Abu Dhabi Space Debate,” the official said.
The solutions and accountability for space debris, the links between the space sector and other industry, the geopolitics of space, and the need for updated legislations, will be some of the other topics of interest at the two-date conference. (WAM; Gulf News; Photo: Sarah Al Amiri and Omran Sharaf Addressing the Media on 17 November 2022 © Gulf News)