Next for UAE's Mars team: Making space for private sector
The success of the UAE’s Mars mission has inspired space dreams and lit the spark in the minds of young Arabs.
Now that the UAE has reached the Red Planet, the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) is moving towards its next ‘big’ targets. And according to the EMM’s lead scientist and the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology, the next step is to engage with the private sector in developing the country’s space industry.
“The next big bet when it comes to the space sector in the UAE is transferring a lot of the experiences we have gained over the course of the last 15 years to the private sector,” said the minister, Sarah Al Amiri, who also chairs the UAE Space Agency.
Addressing a global space forum on Thursday, she said: “We aim to establish a vibrant space industry in the course of the next five years so we can have companies that are able to export space systems, space products and services. This is fundamental to enabling the UAE’s new space economy.” The minister also highlighted the importance of international partnerships in exploring space for the greater good of humanity.
Al Amiri was speaking at a virtual panel discussion ‘In The New Space Age’, organised by the Washington-based digital media company The Hill, where other panelists included astronauts such as Nasa’s Jessica Watkins, the UAE’s Hazzaa AlMansoori; space agency leaders; and scientists from the US and the Middle East.
More than anything, the success of the UAE’s Mars mission has inspired space dreams and lit the spark in the minds of young Arabs, Al Amiri said. It has aimed to encourage more youngsters to pursue careers in science.
“Our space programme overall was an experiment in transferring know-how, building experience in a sector that never existed. And inevitably, this is what you need when you are diversifying your economy. And it’s a means towards which you establish a sector, build experience, attract the right talent and create the right environment for that industry to flourish,” she said.
Talking about the importance of embracing diversity in science, Al Amiri highlighted the fact that the UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, who bring in with them different perspectives that widen horizons for the country.
“Coexisting with people from diverse cultures has provided us with a wide perspective as different individuals think differently. It is the differences in our perspectives and the way we solve problems that makes science happen,” Al Amiri said.
“This is the way forward taken by the UAE with the announcement of giving citizenship to talented people from different nationalities, the long-term residency programmes that also focus on scientists, researchers and talented students. It is through such inclusivity that we are hoping to capitalise on further development not just in the space sector but also in science and technology.”
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