The United Arab Emirates has established a strategic framework for a newly created space agency as the Gulf country continues to develop its space industry, planning to send an unmanned space probe to Mars by 2020.
The agency plans to create an integrated and advanced industry regrouping all the space industry institutions located in the seven Emirates forming the UAE federation.
The agency, set up last year, was officially launched on Monday, in Abu Dhabi.
Khalifa Mohammed Thani al-Rumaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said the development of the space industry will help diversify the economy and create employment for the country’s growing youth population.
“The United Arab Emirates is seeking to confirm its status as a spacefaring nation,” he said.
The presidential decree creating the UAE Space Agency in 2014 outlined that the institution will regulate and support the industry, which includes existing Earth-orbiting satellite programs and plans for a mission to Mars in 2020.
According to estimates, some 150 Emirati scientists and engineers will be needed to work on the Mars mission. To meet this growing need for specialists, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology announced it will launch space-orientated education programs.
The agency is also planning the creation of a space museum to enhance public knowledge of the space industry.
The UAE is hoping that its ambitions will inspire other Arab countries as Abu Dhabi’s Al Yah Satellite Communications Co prepares to launch its third satellite into orbit by next year.
The UAE is already involved in space tourism through Aabar Investments.
Aabar Investments, backed by the Abu Dhabi government, has more than a 33% stake in space tourism company Virgin Galactic and a plan to develop a spaceport in Abu Dhabi is part of this investment deal, but the project is not integrated into the agency’s actions.