UAE and Bahrain to work with UK to develop space technologies to help protect the planet

New programme aims to increase collaboration between the UK and Gulf countries

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - December 10, 2015.  This antenna picks up signal from the satellites, at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.  ( Jeffrey E Biteng / The National )  Editor's Note;  ID 76495,  Rym G reports. *** Local Caption ***  JB101215-Spacecentre12.jpg
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Cutting-edge companies in the UAE, Bahrain and the UK are set to join forces to develop advanced space technologies to tackle natural disasters and reduce greenhouse emissions in the Gulf.

AzurX, a Dubai-based space investment and advisory business, is working with Scotland-based AstroAgency to create a “space bridge” between the UK and Gulf countries.

Both were awarded £75,000 (Dh343,647) by the UK Space Agency as part of its International Bilateral Fund that aims to boost international partnerships.

AzurX will now help organisations in the UAE and Bahrain connect with UK-based companies so they can team up on space projects.

“The UAE has one of the fastest growing space programmes in the world, whilst Bahrain’s space programme is quickly unfolding,” said Anna Hazlett, founder of AzurX.

“This international collaboration offers an opportunity for UK space companies to enter and service the GCC region, whilst creating strong international trade and investment ties for years to come.”

More investment is being made into the UK's private space sector, as the national agency looks to give a boost to development of space technologies and research.

The new programme would help UK companies win contracts from UAE and Bahrain-based organisations on projects that focus on Earth observation and data analytics technologies.

This could offer solutions in areas such as water resources management, urbanisation and infrastructure planning, monitoring carbon credit allocation, oil and gas leak detection, and natural disaster monitoring.

Monumental leap forward

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is one of the organisations in the UAE that will be involved in the programme.

Adnan Al Rais, an assistant director generals at MBRSC, said that the partnership was a “monumental leap for the space industry”.

“As we unite our resources, knowledge, and innovative capacities, we are setting the stage for a transformative trajectory in space innovation,” he said.

“This endeavour is not just about the immediate outcomes but the strategic blueprint it lays for the future of space exploration and commercialisation.”

Bahrain's National Space Science Agency will also be involved.

The country is an emerging space nation that has plans to launch satellites into space.

In 2021, it launched its Light-1 nanosatellite that was developed in partnership with the UAE Space Agency and the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.

Government-run space organisations are now working more with private companies to ensure the sector contributes to the national economy.

With limited budgets given to space agencies, awarding contracts to companies helps increase the number of projects taken on by a country and also boosts its capabilities.

Nasa, for example, has contracted Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch its astronauts to the International Space Station and develop a landing system that would help humans touch down on the Moon.

It is also working with aerospace company Boeing to launch more of its astronauts on the Starliner capsule, which is still in development.

MBRSC's latest project, the MBZ-Sat satellite, was developed mostly by local companies.

It is hoped that the UAE Space Agency's upcoming mission to the asteroid belt will also be mostly developed by the private sector.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 12:00 AM