Led by His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Chairman of the UAE Space, a delegation of ministers and senior space and science officials from the UAE has visited Washington D.C., where it met with senior space officials and representatives from the public and private sector in the United States. The meetings further strengthened UAE-US collaborative efforts in space science, education and exploration while also highlighting the robust relationship between both nations.
The delegation, led by H.E. Al Falasi, included Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and Chairwoman of the UAE Council of Scientists, H.E. Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, and other senior officials and executives from the UAE space sector.
The delegation’s three day visit to the US started with a strategically important meeting on commercial space transportation at the US Department of Transportation. During the meeting opportunities for sharing knowledge and expertise were discussed. The delegation then proceeded to visit the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and Space Education group where it met with students and educators to discuss the importance to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, especially within the context of advancing humanity’s peaceful use of outer space.
The delegation also visited NASA’s headquarters. There they were received by the leadership who discussed future opportunities for collaboration with the UAE, received a briefing from the UAE delegation on the nation’s ambitious Mars missions and projects, and shared experiences from different previous and ongoing NASA projects. The delegation also toured the Goddard Space Flight Center before traveling to the White House to meet with Dr. Scott Pace, Executive Director of the newly-formed US National Space Council.
“The UAE and the US are strategic allies with deep ties across numerous industries, including the space and education sectors,” said H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency. “The UAE has set in place a long-term strategic plan to sustainably develop our space sector into one of the primary engines of the UAE’s knowledge-based economy.”
“We recognize that one of the keys to this transformation lies in international cooperation and knowledge-transfer across a wide range of fields, including space science, technology and education. For this reason, and in alignment with UAE’s vision, we continue to strengthen means of knowledge and expertise exchange with leading models in the space industry to adapt the best suited practices for the Emirati model, as well as, provide our students with the facilities and advanced skills they require to become future leaders in the space sector and its related industries,” he added.
“The visit highlights the need for international cooperation in science and research between the UAE and the world. This is particularly important in the space sector as it has a profound impact on every part of our daily lives,” said Sara Bent Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Science. “We need to accelerate the pace and move forward to strengthen the UAE’s leading position on the global science map. By sharing the UAE’s experience in this field and best practices we can help promote the dissemination of knowledge to serve the progress of science and humanity everywhere”
“Our leadership is keen to develop visions and strategies to sustain the progress of the country in science. The aim is to implement these strategies through investing in human capital, enhancing capabilities and spreading the culture of exploration among all members of society. And we now have an Emirati team leading a scientific expedition that will reach the Red Planet by 2021,” she added.
H.E. Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of UAE Space Agency, said: “Our visit to Washington D.C. this week exemplifies the deep relationship we share with our US counterparts and our commitment to international cooperation when it comes to supporting the advancement of space science, research and exploration. It is extremely important in our view for all competent entities in the field of space to work together towards the common goal of enhancing the welfare of humanity, and our trip this week falls within the strategic visions of both the Space Agency and the UAE.”
Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Board Member of the UAE Space Agency, said: “Masdar Institute has been a proud early supporter of the UAE’s space sector, launching the country’s first dedicated Master’s concentration in space systems and technologies to develop the technologies, systems and trained expertise needed to achieve the country’s space ambitions. We have also been collaborating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a number of innovative flagship research projects that aim to address some of the technical challenges of space exploration. This visit with America’s space innovation leaders has further inspired us in our efforts to support the development of the UAE’s space sector, showing what we can achieve with a commitment to excellence and collaboration with leading partners.”
During its final day in the US, the delegation visited the Boeing Collaboration Center and met with company executives to discuss future opportunities for cooperation, following the successful conclusion of the UAE Genes in Space competition, organized in partnership with Boeing and The National. Later in the afternoon the delegation travelled to the Lockheed Martin Innovation Center and visited Orbital ATK, where H.E. Al Falasi met with Emirati engineers working on Al Yah 3 as well as representatives from Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), responsible for the development of the satellite.