UAE Cabinet formally approves 10-year visas and space projects

Prime Minister also sets out plan to develop a home-grown commercial space industry

Japan's rocket H-2A is launched, carrying aboard a green gas observing satellite "Ibuki-2"  and KhalifaSat, a UAE satellite, Tanegashima, southern Japan, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. The Japanese rocket carrying United Arab Emirates' first locally-made satellite has successfully lifted off from a space center in southern Japan. (Nozomi Endo/Kyodo News via AP)

The Cabinet has approved long-term visas for non-Emiratis to help key professionals and promising students to set down roots in the country.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said government departments will begin processing applications after the meeting on Monday.

The move will mean key workers such as investors, scientists and the brightest students can qualify for five and ten-year visas.

At present, most professionals qualify for visas that must be renewed after two or three years.

"The UAE's residency departments will start accepting applications," he wrote on Twitter.

He said the country "will always be a destination for talent" and would help to "fulfil the dream of all pioneers".

In January, the UAE issued the first long-term visas to 20 finalists for the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Distinction. The move was designed to encourage them to relocate to the country, stay longer and invest.

Sheikh Mohammed also said ministers approved a National Space Strategy to set out the country's goals between now and 2030.

The intention is to further develop the country's home-grown research and development industry, which produced the KhalifaSat satellite that was blasted into space in October.

The strategy includes 79 projects in the areas of science and space research, manufacturing, assembly and testing in addition to the commercial space service sector, Sheikh Mohammed said.

"Last year we celebrated the launch of the first satellite fully built by young Emirati engineers, and in the very near future we will see them operating international space technology centers, based in the UAE," he said in a news release from the Cabinet office.

"We will see Emirati cadres, highly skilled and specialised in space science, achieving scientific breakthroughs that serve the entire humanity.

"We are investing in the space industry, with ambitious projects and initiatives that will benefit our citizens and contribute to key sectors of the national economy. This is an important milestone for our country, and we are aiming to become a model for countries seeking to launch ambitious space programmes."

Later this year, in September, the UAE's first astronaut will be sent to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz rocket will carry one of the two Emirati astronauts currently undergoing training – Hazza Al Mansouri, 34, or Sultan Al Neyadi, 37 – along with Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American flight engineer Chris Cassidy.

The Cabinet's space strategy includes six objectives, 21 programmes and 79 initiatives. The Emirates Space Agency is responsible for following up the implementation of the strategy in cooperation with strategic partners and more than 25 agencies and space centres abroad.