Dubai - This piece of legislation will help the UAE Space Agency in organising its activities and issuing permits.
UAE residents could face up to Dh10 million in fines and two years' imprisonment if they try to launch space objects without seeking permission from authorities, according to a new draft federal law that aims to tighten space sector regulations.
Under the draft law, which is currently being discussed at the Federal National Council (FNC), no one is allowed to launch any object that reaches 100km above Earth's sea level without the approval of the UAE Space Agency. Unauthorised acquisition of objects such as satellites or rockets will also be illegal once the law is passed.
"This draft law describes the ownership of space objects, working in space-related activities, being a part of it or using locations in the UAE for space-related activities without having a permit from the UAE Space Agency," Afra Rashid Al Basti, an FNC member who has developed the draft law, told Khaleej Times.
A UN declaration states that space is open to any country - but with this law, the UAE is setting limitations on space activities in its territory, Al Basti said.
"It's protection for the country. Each country has the right to protect itself and the activities in their area."
She added that this piece of legislation will help the UAE Space Agency in organising its activities and issuing permits, even with regard to finding meteorites and any kind of space object that falls into the UAE.
The draft law also seeks to impose a ban on selling, buying and mining meteorites anywhere in the country.
As Virgin Galactic aims to set up a UAE launch port to send people to space, Al Basti said this law could help regulate the growing number of space-related activities in the country.
WHAT THE DRAFT LAW SAYS
>No one can launch any object that reaches 100km above sea level
>Owning space objects such as satellites or rockets will be illegal
>Selling, buying and mining meteorites will be banned
>Fines for violators range from Dh100,000 to Dh10 million and up to two years' imprisonment
Legal shop for space rocks in the works
The Dubai Astronomy Group is in discussions with the UAE Space Agency to open a meteorite centre, where anyone can legally buy or sell space rocks.
The CEO of the centre, Hasan Al Hariri, told Khaleej Times that the draft law will help regulate meteorite mining, buying and selling.
"There are lots of people who came to the UAE and try to sell meteorites and thanks to this law, it will become prohibited and banned," Al Hariri said.
He said that many people in the country have been "conned" by sellers who are trying to make profit from fake meteorites.
"This will help because how are people supposed to know if this space rock is legitimate? Some of people have been conned of hundreds of thousands of dirhams. Even if they bring a certificate from abroad, how do we know we it's genuine?
"Currently, there is no one in the UAE who certifies the legitimacy of meteorites. So, banning it is saving people from getting conned. We have meteorites in our country. Poachers can come down, pick it up and leave - this is not allowed, it's national treasure," Al Hariri said.
The centre currently has 90 meteorites and they are in discussion with the UAE Space Agency to open a centre.