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UAE ministers say space is a key sector for the future, launches new tech challenge

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Senior officials in the United Arab Emirates said space exploration will be one of the nation’s most important economic sectors in the future, during a special forum held on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Space Business Forum saw leading UAE ministers and global space experts come together to discuss the potential of reaching the final frontier – and the challenges that remain for the space sector.

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Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, said the UAE anticipates that the space industry being earmarked a key pillar of growth for the nation in the coming years.

“We see that the space sector is not only important by itself, but also it enables the growth of other sectors which makes it very interesting,” he said.

But aside from sustainability, space is also economically a viable investment, said Buamim.

“Space is very interesting for business because it is seen as the next frontier for business innovation. And we believe that there are many opportunities that lie in commercializing these aspects of the space.”

Commercialism can be particularly found in the areas of space mining and space tourism, he said.

Buamim highlighted the UAE’s historic milestones in the space sector, saying that the “whole world was watching” the Emirates Mars Mission which saw the UAE’s Hope Probe reach the Red Planet in February - becoming only the fifth nation in history to do so.

Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said the UAE’s space journey has evolved over two decades to a point where the Emirates has become a pioneer in the field.

The UAE has also recently announced that the country is setting a course for Venus and the main asteroid belt. The new interplanetary mission will launch in 2028 and will see the spacecraft go on a five-year expedition, orbiting Venus and Earth before reaching the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter in 2040.

During the forum, the UAE Space Agency launched new competition offering $1.9million (Dh4million) in funding for next-generation proposals that address climate change and food security.

The fund is aiming to attract scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, and innovators seeking to address humanity’s greatest challenges.
The competition will invite applicants to create commercial-viable applications based on satellites data.

It is part of the UAE’s drive to encourage more private sector involvement in the space sector, the forum heard.

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