UAE, Russia space cooperation reaching new heights

Russia is now one of the UAE's major partners in space technology cooperation, particularly regarding the delivery of Emirati satellites to space.

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ABU DHABI // Russia and the UAE are taking space technology cooperation to new heights, according to the Russian ambassador.

The country is now one of the UAE’s major partners in this field, primarily regarding the delivery of Emirati satellites to space.

“The establishment of the UAE Space Agency and the announcement of some ambitious projects like the Mars probe in 2021 for sure will contribute to bringing the cooperation in this field to a new height,” Alexander Efimov, the ambassador, said. “The bilateral relations between Russia and the UAE are witnessing dynamic growth and steady trend for diversification.”

He said trade, energy, culture and sports were other fields included in that cooperation.

“We have considerable positive experience of fruitful economic ties with the UAE and these relations do not face any serious administrative problems or economic restrictions,” Mr Efimov said. “Even more, our bilateral cooperation is not affected by fluctuations of global environment. I would rather say that current political and economic turbulence on the world arena, desire of Western countries, as they call it, to ‘isolate Russia’, only creates new opportunities for our Emirati partners in the Russian market.”

The UAE has been investing in space and satellite technology in a bid to shift away from an oil-based economy. In November 2013, it launched DubaiSat-2, a satellite created under the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), using the Russian Dnepr rocket launcher along with the Russian International Space Company (Kozmotras).

DubaiSat-3 has a launch date of 2017.

“Russia has a very broad base of space exploration history,” said Bas Lansdorp, chief executive of Mars One in The Netherlands. “And, at the moment, the Russians and the Chinese are the only countries that can send humans to space so they are a very significant player in this field. Russia is a great partner for enhancing the Emirates space programme as they are good with anything around Earth orbit.”

The UAE is also working on a number of projects to be implemented within the framework of a US$2 billion investment fund by Russian Direct Investment Fund and Mubadala. “[These include] the expansion of the road network in Russia, building “intelligent” electricity grids and installation of broadband internet access in sparsely populated areas of the country,” Mr Efimov said. “The UAE is very attractive for the investors from our country, too. Russian business appreciates a favourable social and economic climate, sense of security, stability, confidence in the future maintained by the wise policy of the UAE leadership.”

Last October, the Russian minister of industry and trade, Denis Manturov, said Moscow hoped to open a trade mission in the UAE by the end of 2015.

“All the necessary arrangements are being made to open the Trade Representative Office of the Russian Federation in the UAE in Abu Dhabi within the time-frame mentioned,” Mr Efimov said. “The positions of Moscow and Abu Dhabi on a wide range of regional and international issues are close or coincide. Regular meetings of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, contacts between our foreign ministers and other governmental bodies are the best illustration for my words.”

The UAE has approximately 25,000 Russian nationals, most of whom live in Dubai and Sharjah. The entire Russian-speaking community comprises almost 40,000 people.