UAE launches survey on how space sector is helping economy to grow

Study will focus on the private sector, foreign investment and the impact on jobs

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The UAE Space Agency has launched a survey to measure how the space sector has contributed to the national economy.

As the government announces more space projects and the number of private space companies increases in the UAE, the agency wants to carry out an extensive study of the sector.

The survey will focus on the number of companies working in the sector, foreign investment and the total spending on space projects.

It will also explore efforts to invest in research and development and space exploration, as well as the number of people employed in the sector.

Support for start-ups

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, announced the survey on Monday.

“The economic survey project for the space sector in the UAE is an important tool that helps in enhancing the decision-making process, drawing strategic policies, contributing to economic indicators, in addition to preparing national space plans and programmes,” she said.

Ms Al Amiri said the results would also support the work of start-ups and small and medium-size companies, and boost research projects.

“It will increase the UAE's investment attractiveness in space projects and much more,” she said.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, at the launch of economic survey. Victor Besa / The National

Figures from 2019 show the UAE’s investments in space exceeded Dh22 billion ($5.99bn), with 57 space-related establishments operating in the country helping create 1,500 jobs.

Since the launch of the UAE’s Mars mission in 2020, more private companies have set up in the Emirates.

The Dh735 million mission involved the Hope spacecraft, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since February 9, 2021.

As the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and UAE Space Agency launch more projects, private companies try to win government contracts that will help them participate in missions.

The space centre is overseeing the development of MBZ-Sat, an imaging satellite, but private companies have mostly been responsible for building it.

The private sector will also be involved in the UAE’s asteroid belt mission, overseen by the space agency.

Abdulla Al Marar, head of space projects at the space agency, told The National that the survey would have a strong focus on the private sector.

“That's a major focus of the government today and not only through the survey, but also a lot of initiatives and strategies – we focus a lot on the private sector,” he said.

“The Mars mission has contributed directly to the economy, but also in the number of start-ups, small and medium enterprises being established.

“It really shed light on the space economy and the opportunities in space.”

Globally, space agencies are trying to get the private sector more involved to help reduce government spending.

Nasa has worked with companies such as SpaceX to send astronauts to space again, with Boeing developing its Starliner crew capsule.

The UAE Space Agency has launched a Dh3bn national investment and development fund for the space sector, with private companies to benefit most.

In a previous interview with The National, Ms Al Amiri said that she expected space projects to have a direct effect on the economy in the next five years.

She said it was important to build an industry that would develop advanced space systems and generate more job opportunities, including for overseas talent.

“Most of the current space sector within the Emirates is focused on government spending and programmes across both local and federal governments,” she said at the time.

"Today, we're talking about a space sector that has an indirect impact to the economy.

"In five years, we want to see a space sector that has both an indirect impact on the economy, society and also a direct impact on the economy."

Updated: September 05, 2022, 9:23 AM
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