The Middle East has the potential to become a leader in the global space industry

Amar Vora
Amar Vora
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When it comes to space, the Middle East region’s ambitions are unparalleled. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the region when it comes to this sector; and we’re at a pivotal moment where countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are accelerating their space programmes.

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The SpaceX Crew-6 mission in the UAE, the Rashid Rover set to land on the moon next month and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia planning to send its first female astronaut to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft this year, highlights the collective drive for the region to become a major player in the space game. The opportunities when it comes to space are quite literally infinite.

There is a major opportunity here for the region to become a world leader in space. There is also a real intention for the region to lead space exploration. It absolutely has all the right ingredients, technology, tools and backing to be able to do this.

Fundamentally, it’s backed by credible programmes and initiatives. The Middle East encourages international collaboration, drawing on best practice and valuing world-class experience when it comes to achieving its space objectives. Governments in the UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are very open when it comes to bringing in global capabilities and technology. This is reflective of the region’s value when it comes to partnerships. The private sector, therefore, has a key role to play here when it comes to supporting the governments to bring in expertise and best practice to help fuel the growth of the region’s collective space ambitions.

A key factor in realising the collective ambition here will be the focus on technology to drive innovation when it comes to the region’s space programme. Offering highly innovative services, at a time when space-related data and science are now increasingly becoming part of the national agenda, is where the focus needs to lie. We need to provide the right tools and services to drive forward this sector, so that the region further develops and builds on its capabilities here.

International companies operating in space, with a lens into the region, have an opportunity to support. The space programme needs a full range of advisory, consultancy and operational space services, which span the full lifecycle of a mission, from spacecraft and mission design, development, and operations, through to data management, applications, and ground segment services. Having the right level of expertise and experience will help support goals for the future – and will align with Vision 2030 of the Saudi Space Commission.

Another benefit of the Middle East’s collective ambitions around space that should not be overlooked is the major opportunity to accelerate the nationalisation visions. There is a very strong emphasis on nationalisation and local capability development, with the space sector fuelling opportunities for nationalised workforces.

As such, nurturing and fostering local talent will secure long-term sustainability for these programmes – as there will be skilled Emirati and Saudi-based workforces that are equipped with the right knowledge and experience to be able to help their countries to drive forward their space ambitions. This is a key component of the leadership’s vision, and this is where organisations supporting the space drive can help with the knowledge-transfer and expertise so that we are helping to train these more localised workforces, ultimately bringing national visions to life.

In only a short amount of time countries in the Middle East have achieved some incredible milestones when it comes to its focus on space. This signals not only the giant leaps forward nations in the region are taking, but it highlights the potential and resources countries have, to quickly become leader’s worldwide in the space industry.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are examples in point. They have made history in recent months, and they are continuing to push the boundaries here with space exploration. To help enable this focus, going forward it will be important to develop initiatives that are both adaptable and agile. With innovation fuelling the ambition here, there is an opportunity to push boundaries, with a wide scope for innovative, experimental work to reach the big, but achievable ambitions of the governments, Vision 2030 and beyond.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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