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UAE pioneers way into space for Arab countries

Space & Satellite experts from the MENA region line-up for Global Space Technology Forum as UAE’s first government satellite heads for summer launch

The UAE is forging ahead with the development of a national space industry and its pioneering role can help accelerate the establishment of a Pan Arab space agency which would reduce the cost of sending satellites into orbit.

The recent announcement by Abu Dhabi based 4C GEOC for a US$1 billion dollar Earth Observation Space Center, Yahsat’s planned telecommunication satellites launches and the scheduled launch this summer of the UAE’s first ingeniously built remote sensing satellite, DubaSat-1, is further evidence that the UAE is showing the way forward for Arab countries in the creation of a regional space programme.

The need for the UAE to lead Arab countries into space was highlighted by senior delegates at the Global Space Technology Forum launched in Abu Dhabi last November, and that message is being underlined in the countdown to this year’s event which will attract experts from NASA to the UAE capital for the first time in December.

The establishment of an Arab Space Research Agency is seen as essential to combine talent, information and technology between countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and plans have already been submitted to governments across the region.

“With the UAE Government already working hard to develop science and technology, the Emirates is seen as the logical venue for the agency’s headquarters,” said Nick Webb, Director of Streamline Marketing Group, organisers of the Global Space Technology Forum. “Regional governments have been studying plans and more detailed proposals are being formulated.

“The Middle East, North Africa and Indian Subcontinent as a whole are keen to enter the space age in a big way in order to benefit from the enormous opportunities offered by next generation space research and commercial space applications.”

Due to be launched in the summer from the Baikonur complex in Kazakstan, the former centre for the Soviet space programme, DubaiSat-1 will provide data for infrastructure development, rural and urban development planning, management of natural disasters and provision of accurate maps.

It is among more than 20 emerging national space projects in the Middle East and Africa, a region which is rapidly evolving as one of the key growth markets for the global space industry.

This will be highlighted at the second Global Space Technology Forum, ( taking place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 7-9 December, which will draw senior representatives from space agencies and national space programmes, government officials and policy makers, as well as entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, scientists, and airline and aerospace senior management.

The event combines a three-day exhibition of the latest space technology equipment and services with a two-day conference outlining global policy relating to private ventures and future projects in space, new technology and research efforts making space access easy and affordable.

The forum will provide a platform for decision makers representing Middle East Space and Satellite projects from countries such as Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Oman, Vietnam, UAE and Algeria to come together for the first time to discuss Space and Satellite Technology, and join representatives of the NASA, European Space Agency, and other prestigious space programmes worldwide. A series of special closed-door meetings will allow decision makers representing leading Middle East space programmes and other emerging space markets to discuss their requirements and projects.

The Forum will be rounded off on the final day by a high level Advanced Sat-Com Conference spotlighting the advances in satellite communications which are slowly revolutionising the communication sector.

Highlighting the UAE’s pioneering role in regional space industry developments is Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), the country’s first nationally-owned satellite operator.

Last year Yahsat signed an agreement with the UAE Armed Forces to provide secure satellite communications in the UAE following an earlier agreement with Arianespace, the European launch service and solutions company, to launch the Yahsat 1A satellite in the fourth quarter of 2010. Another agreement has been signed with International Launch Services (ILS) to launch the Yahsat 1B satellite in first half of 2011.

The 2009 Global Space Technology Forum is expected to grow on last year’s launch event, which saw 32 leading experts from worldwide space organisations addressing a targeted audience of just over 250 conference delegates, with almost 1100 professionals attending the event overall.

The event has gained official support from the UAE Space Reconnaissance Center, the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology and the UAE Society of Engineers, in addition to industry media partners SpaceNewsfeed UK, Spacelinks and Geoconnexion.

© 2009 Al Bawaba (