Yahsat bullish about growth as it plans to launch new satellite by 2024

The company's financial position is strong, a top executive says

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 24, 2021.  Idex 2021 Day 4.
Eisa Alshamsi, Deputy General Manager of Yahsat.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  Business
Reporter:  Fareed Rahman
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UAE satellite operator Yahsat plans to expand its fleet and put a new satellite in orbit by 2024 to boost its broadband operations.

The T4 satellite will be used for government and commercial purposes, said Eisa Al Shamsi, deputy general manager of Yahsat government solutions, on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

It will offer “L-band services" that are more advanced than the technology in other Yahsat satellites.

Yahsat has been already been playing a significant role in space technology

The satellite operator, which is owned by Mubadala Investment Company, currently has five satellites – AY 1, AY 2, AY3, T2 and T3.

Yahsat signed a Dh2 billion ($544 million) agreement last year with Airbus to develop the T4 satellite.

The UAE has been stepping up its investment in space technology as it reduces its economic reliance on oil.

It became the fifth country in the world to successfully put a satellite, the Hope probe, into Mars' orbit this month after a seven-month journey.

“Yahsat has been already been playing a significant role in space technology,” said Mr Al Shamsi.

He expects the recent deal with the Tawazun Economic Council to improve the company’s space industry prospects.

Yahsat signed an agreement with the economic council on Tuesday to nurture “critical in-country capabilities” for the development of advanced Satcom solutions within the UAE.

The deal will help in “bringing the know-how and ... the knowledge” in satellite communications technology that will strengthen the company’s position.

Yahsat is also collaborating with Khalifa University on the launch of the new satellites.

"We managed to launch Mysat 1, which was developed by students of Khalifa University, and there is DhabiSat, which was launched on February 21 using the Yahsat lab we have."

Yahsat offers integrated satellite communications to more than 190 countries in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.

Its main customers include the UAE government and defence forces.

The company also signed two separate deals on Wednesday with UAE military vehicle maker Nimr and US-based L3 Harris Technologies to provide satellite communication services and improve its market position.

“We are reaffirming our commitment to government customers struggling to gain access to line-fit COTM [Communications-on-the-Move] satellite solutions, combat systems and sensors, which are pre-qualified and ready for [use] on vehicular systems,” the company said.

Mr Al Shamsi said Yahsat's plans to list were subject to the approval of its shareholder.

“As a Mubadala Investment Company, it eventually goes back to them how they manage their assets," he said.

He said Yahsat's financial position was strong, given its growth, expansion and strong market portfolio.

The satellite operator appointed a new chairman and a chief executive early this month to take its expansion plans forward.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi, chief executive of Mubadala's UAE Investments' unit, was named board chairman while Ali Al Hashemi took over as chief executive.