The United Arab Emirates intends to become a regional power in the space field thanks to partnerships between the public and private sectors. This ambitious collaboration is not just about conquering space, but about contributing to the country's economic development.
Following the example of the rather successful American partnership between SpaceX and Nasa, the Emirates are positioning themselves in favor of opening up the space domain to the private sector. Over the next decade, the UAE plans to invest more than $816 million in the private space sector to develop the country’s capabilities, a budget twice as large as the previous decade.
Economic zones dedicated to space activities will also be created in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah to allow start-ups and existing companies to expand.
Encouraging entrepreneurship in the space sector
The UAE continues to develop legal provisions to encourage interested companies to set up shop in the country. After adopting permits for start-ups, a new $2 million funding initiative was launched by the space agency Space Analytics and Solutions. The Dubai Space Center has also launched the Space Ventures program, which provides office space and guidance to startups.
There are many programs aimed at encouraging start-ups to enter the space business. The Emirates hopes that as these companies flourish, they will become less dependent on government funding. That’s why the government’s role continues to be to absorb the risk of launches, while positioning itself to encourage innovation.
Mars mission paves way for private space sector
The UAE’s journey towards developing a private space sector gained momentum with the Emirates Mars mission. A local company was involved in the manufacture of parts for the Hope spacecraft, even though it was not specialized in this sector. The collaboration has been so successful that the next UAE space mission, which plans to explore seven asteroids and fly over Venus, will depend largely on the private sector.
Space tourism in the Emirates
The real economy of the Emirates should directly benefit from this investment over the next five years, thanks to the birth of numerous companies. To further develop the private sector, the space agency also aspires to introduce space tourism, on board spaceports. Discussions already seem to be underway with a company, which according to the UAE space agency, has already flown 20 people on suborbital flights.