UAE and France join hands on space

The UAE Space Agency has signed a partnership deal with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France.

The control room of the National Centre for Space Studies in Toulouse, south-western France. Lionel Bonaventure / AFP
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ABU DHABI // The UAE Space Agency, the body responsible for the Arab world’s first unmanned mission to Mars, has announced a partnership with France.

It has joined hands with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France, a French government agency responsible for shaping and enacting France’s space policy.

“This agreement is the first of its kind between the UAE and a foreign nation to partner in space activities,” said Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies yesterday.

“Working with a friendly nation like France in outer space can only serve to strengthen the bonds between our two countries, while the benefits to the UAE in terms of human capital development, experience and expertise gained are invaluable.”

Dr Mohammed Ahbabi, the agency’s director general, said he and his colleagues were excited to be working with CNES, given its experience and capabilities.

“While the UAE has decades of experience in managing satellites and other space activities, our strategic partnership with CNES will be a key opportunity for both agencies to work together on scientific missions, mutual cooperation and public outreach activities,” he said.

The partnership follows bilateral exchange visits to discuss cooperation.

“We already have numerous partnerships in various fields. With this memorandum, it’s a new step in our relationship,” said Michel Miraillet, the French ambassador to the UAE.

Under the agreement, the two agencies will share training, technology and information, and carry out joint studies and projects.

“We are extremely satisfied and proud of this memorandum,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of CNES. “This cooperation within the aerospacial field, which is longstanding, is a sign that the strong desire of our two countries to work together is now real.

“This confirms the commitment of the CNES to become a partner of the UAESA.” The UAE established its space agency last July and announced plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, to coincide with the country’s 50th anniversary.

* The headline has been amended since it was first published.