Arab Space Agency is in the works, official confirms

Sarwat Nasir/Dubai
Filed on November 17, 2019 | Last updated on November 17, 2019 at 11.26 pm

In March, the UAE launched the Arab Space Cooperation Group, which includes partnership of 13 Arab countries.

The UAE is working towards developing an 'Arab Space Agency', similar to the European Space Agency (ESA) where a number of countries work together in space-related activities.

The director-general of the UAE Space Agency, Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, told Khaleej Times that the agency is a work in progress. It is the long-term goal, he said.

In March, the UAE launched the Arab Space Cooperation Group, which includes partnership of 13 Arab countries. Their first joint project includes building the 813 satellite, which is being funded by the UAE.

Some of these countries include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and Kuwait.

"Right now, it's a pre-space agency. It's a group where you bring together the space experts and leaders in the region together. Then they debate, exchange ideas, complement each other, and work on projects together. This is a seed for a bigger initiative, such as an Arab space agency - similar to the ESA and African Space Agency.

But we don't want to jump, and we have to walk before we run," said Dr Al Ahbabi on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow.

"We are on the right track and we are building on the best practices and learning from others when they formed this cooperation. It will initiate different space activities, but it will enhance and benefit the region, rather than everyone working alone because space requires cooperation, otherwise it's hard."

Formed in 1975, the ESA has 22 countries as members and has launched massive satellite projects by working together.

The Arab Space Cooperation group will be holding its second meeting on the sidelines of the airshow.

They'll be discussing the plans they initiated this year, as well as further building and enhancing space activities in the region.

"We will also discuss the UAE initiative to fund a satellite, to serve the Arab region, and become a platform for the Arab engineers and scientists to work together," he said.

The UAE is on a mission to empower the Arab region in space-related activities. The country's first astronauts, Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi, are soon going on a regional tour to educate other Arabs and increase interest in this field.

The UAE Space Agency has also been working closely with Bahrain to develop their space programme, with a collaboration deal signed last year.

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