The UAE is now a softpower in space

Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission, will chair COPOUS for two years

Published: Wed 1 Jun 2022, 10:20 PM

It took just 50 years for the UAE to establish itself as a global softpower that influences every country in the world. This country has now set its sights on space and has made its ambitions clear, as it seeks cooperation in this domain. It believes that a peaceful space benefits all humanity. A city on Mars is a long-term project for the country. It has already sent manned missions to space and an unmanned one to Mars.

The UAE’s standing has risen in the last two years and the world has taken notice. On Wednesday, it was announced that the country will head the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The Committee named Omran Sharaf, the UAE’s Mars mission chief as director. Sharif will hold the position for two years.

The Committee has 100 member states and its main task is to frame policies for international spatial cooperation. It can also recommend rules. While the body cannot be called a space regulator, what it says carries weight.

This makes the UAE a space power in its own right - a softpower, a voice of reason that seeks to bridge a world of conflicts by building back better in space. And it’s not stopping there. The UAE believes that it has duty to make space safer for humanity. The country’s rising stature on the international stage has propelled it to become a leading voice about the glories of space and the many unknowns that are contained in the still vastness.

We have so much more exploring to do to make space applications work on earth. Indeed, there is a lot to learn about the final frontier, to seek and find for the benefit of humans while making life easier and simpler here on earth. Space is for peace but in the race for supremacy, superpowers and aspiring powers have taken their disputes to space with snooping satellites and even weapons.

Some countries have developed missiles that can shoot down satellites that could disrupt communication systems on earth. China and the US have shot down their own satellites to prove to the world their reach in space.

Russia has conducted its own tests, and so has India. Space debris is also a concern that threatens further exploration and future missions. The early years of space exploration from the 1950s were defined by which superpower would get there first.

The Cold War between the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union saw missions being launched in quick succession — to space, moon and back. Today, with more players, it’s getting crowded out there. Here the UAE can play a major role in easing tensions in the sphere. It enjoys good relations with the major powers and can influence major decisions they make on keeping space safe while opening it up for more exploration.

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