UAE: Space talks must be removed from geopolitical discussions, says minister

The country's approach toward space has always been driven by an overarching science and technology agenda

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Lamya Tawfik

Published: Tue 6 Dec 2022, 8:01 PM

The UAE’s space sector has evolved from a driver for transformation within the science and technology ecosystem to a driver of a new sector within its economy, a minister said on Monday.

“This is why we are taking our programmes and projects today from capability and capacity development for the sake of enriching our science and technology ecosystem to developing a private sector,” Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, told attendees at the Abu Dhabi Space Debate.

“The space debate is a natural progression because as we enter into the private and commercial space, we want to do that as positive actors on the global stage,” she said.

In a ministerial panel on the topic of space in national science and technology programmes, Al Amiri said that the UAE’s approach toward space has always been driven by an overarching science and technology agenda.

“This starts off by realising the value of technology and by ensuring that it’s embedded in your economic development,” she said, adding that it means that the entire scientific apparatus needs to feed into societal transformation and then into technological advancement.

She stressed that it is important for space to be removed from the agenda of diplomatic and geopolitical discussions to allow for multilateral conversations.

“The onus is on us as custodians of space sector in each of our countries, space should be removed from any other discussions that are happening between nations. Once it is, you’re having a space discussion for the benefit of the growth for that sector that’s vital for all,” she said.


Poland's role in global space sector

Speaking about the Polish advancements in the field, Dr Tomasz Rzymkowski, Secretary of State from Poland said that space science is at the very centre of Polish science since the time of Copernicus. “We participate in many bilateral programs such as the European Space Agency and our graduates are popular employees in space agencies worldwide, many work in Nasa. We are proud of our achievements in our field,” he said.

He added that nearly all the mission organised by major space actors in the industry, like the Japanese space agency or Nasa, rely on some components and solutions which are either produced or co- produced or designed by Polish scientists.

Another country that has made great strides in the field is Turkey as explained by H.E. Mehmet Fatih Kacir, the Turkish Vice Minister of Industry and Technology. “We have made huge investments to make an innovation ecosystem in the country over the past 20 years,” he said giving the example of building more than 90 technoparks in more than 50 different cities in the country.

“There are more than 8,000 companies doing research and development work with the support of our government. Most of them are in university campuses so we are also enhancing the cooperation between academia and the industry,” he said.

He stressed the importance of being self-sufficient as a nation saying that a moon mission is planned by the Turkish space programme with the aim to test the domestically-designed, hybrid rocket propulsion system.

“It’s important because if we succeed in it, the world will gain an innovative, cheaper and environmentally friendly solution to use in space, and we’ll be able to commercialize the technology. Success is based on self-sufficiency and international cooperation,” he said.

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