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UAE’s space program: Officials say country has qualified national standards in every field – News

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100% Emiratisation at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center where 50% of team members are women


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published: Monday, February 6, 2023 at 10:18 pm

According to a program official, the UAE’s space program is a testament to the country’s innovative spirit.

Mohammed Al Harmi, Senior Director of Administrative Affairs at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), speaking at the Innovation Talks as part of the month-long nationwide UAE Innovation Programme, said the center has an emiratization rate of 930.

When the program was established in 2006, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, made it clear that he wanted UAE nationals to participate in the space programme, he said. “Today, we are proud to have a 100% Emiratisation rate, 50% of the team are women and the average age is 26,” he said, stressing the importance of gender balance and youth participation in the space programme.

Establishing a space program was the second decision Sheikh Mohammed made after becoming ruler of Dubai. “His vision was for the UAE to be a leader in scientific exploration and discovery. We focused on establishing the framework for the sector in the UAE,” said Al Harmi, adding that major projects were soon launched.

The next job, he explained, is to increase the capacity of science facilities to support the sector, support STEM SMEs, invest in science capabilities and inspire future generations in science, engineering and advanced technology.

He added that under the UAE space programme, there are four main elements: the development of satellites, the discovery of Mars, the UAE Astronaut Program and the Mars 2071 strategy.

Al Harmi said that in addition to UAE nationals who are concerned with all engineering specialties in the space programme, the technical aspect of the field is developing across the country as many components are built in the UAE.

Referring to the UAE Astronaut Programme, he said it was inspiring for future generations. “When we were young, we wanted to be footballers and policemen, but Sheikh Zayed had a vision: why other countries are in space and not us. The idea is there and the vision continues,” he said. He added that it is common for many young students to wear spacesuits these days, and there are many space-themed activities in schools.

Going into space and becoming an astronaut is not limited to pilots and engineers, as mental and physical ability is the determining factor. Talking about the importance of space missions, he said scientific research is one of the main reasons. “Think about it, toothpaste, MRIs and X-rays were all invented in space. In space, there is no politics, and nations are collectively seeking to study the future, agriculture and medicine,” he said.

The upcoming mission, which will see Sultan Al Neyadi spending six months on the International Space Station, will be significant from a scientific point of view, he said. “For example, we will study the effects of climate change on his body. The challenges are many, and we will have more than 18 scientific missions in addition to partnerships with other countries,” he said.

Scientific research, technological development, understanding the impact of space travel and international partnerships are actually the main potential goals of the UAE space programme. “We are the fifth country in the world to conduct a mission in deep space,” he said.

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