Dubai's AzurX teams up with Scotland's AstroAgency for space collaboration

Move will help companies access thriving aerospace market in the Emirates

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A new pathway to help Scottish businesses set up operations in the UAE will give a boost to Scotland and the Emirates' private space sector.

AzurX, an organisation in Dubai whose high-profile clients include Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, has teamed up with Edinburgh’s AstroAgency to support growth in the space business sector.

The partnership would help Scottish and UK space companies set up base in the UAE, helping them to access the country’s thriving market and potentially secure government contracts.

For example, the UAE's latest mission to explore the main asteroid belt and perform a Venus fly-by will be built mainly by the private sector.

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The future of space exploration and research hinges on efforts such as this
Salem Al Marri, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The Emirates is looking to award contracts to private companies to help build the spacecraft.

It would also benefit the UAE because the space agency and centre would have increased access to local suppliers for its missions, especially as the country looks to grow its private space industry.

Salem Al Marri, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, said the partnership was an “important international collaboration”.

“We are highly supportive of collaborations between UAE-based specialists like AzurX, and other country specialists, whereby working together can yield highly effective contributions to the global space community,” he said.

“The future of space exploration and research hinges on efforts such as this.

“We recognise and value the important role that the UAE’s private sector companies can make in boosting the UAE’s position as a serious and committed contributor to the global space sector.”

These efforts by AstroAgency are being made to support Scotland’s ambitious new space strategy that was launched at Expo 2020 Dubai last year.

It includes achieving a £4 billion ($5.03bn) share of the global market, creating 20,000 jobs in the sector by 2030 and building multiple launch sites across Scotland.

The country hopes to launch 2,000 small satellites by then to improve its scientific research, telecoms and internet connectivity.

AzurX would facilitate AstroAgency’s plans to help businesses access the UAE market, with discussions already taking place to set up Scottish businesses in the UAE’s space economic zones.

Ivan McKee, Scotland’s Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said the country’s new strategy was already producing results.

“Six months on from the launch of Scotland’s space strategy at our Space Day at Expo 2020 Dubai and we are seeing tangible positive results coming to fruition,” he said.

“It is great to see dynamic innovative space sector strategy experts AstroAgency and AzurX coming together to bridge fast-growing commercial activities between Scotland and the United Arab Emirates.

“The space industry in Scotland and indeed globally is seeing exponential growth and international business partnerships such as this will become even more important to allow exchange of talent, ideas and business connections.”

The UAE Space Agency has plans to attract foreign investment.

Last month, The National revealed the UAE’s plans to set up economic zones dedicated to space activities across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

This would allow start-ups and established businesses to begin operations.

Officials hope this would help the country to become a major player in the region, with a well-developed ecosystem consisting of public and privately led projects – similar to how Nasa has harnessed the power of privately owned companies in the US.

Updated: May 26, 2022, 7:42 AM