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UAE Space Agency and government entities engage in workshop to better assess national space sector

The UAE has invested an estimated $6 billion in space projects, and is home to several competitive institutions in this field. It also has four research and development centres specialising in space science and technology. Naser Ahmed Al Rashedi, Director of the Space Policy and Legislation at the UAE Space Agency, commented at the workshop that statistics were important for investors to evaluate the sector’s performance in comparison to its global counterparts.

The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) concluded the first national workshop on measuring the space economy in Abu Dhabi last week. The workshop, which was attended by 30 space specialists and experts from national agencies, was organised by UAESA in collaboration with the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The three-day workshop centred on assisting the government and private sector to better identify the statistical contours of the space sector, while investigating the economic significance of space activities, innovation, and the sector’s potential impact on the nation’s socio-economic development as a whole.

Commenting on the workshop, Dr. Mohamed Al Junaibi, Executive Director Space Sector at UAE Space Agency, said: “The total global space economy today is estimated at over USD 350 bn, with business revenues accounting for more than 76% of this sum. Global reports show that interest in the space sector is rising globally, with a growing role for the private sector.

“The UAE has invested an estimated $6 billion in space projects, successfully establishing a strong and diversified space sector. Today, the UAE is home to several pioneering and competitive institutions in the field of satellite communications and satellite broadcasting, such as Yahsat and Thuraya, in addition to four research and development centres specialising in space science and technology. Additionally, the UAE has advanced centres specialising in Earth observation and remote sensing, such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) and the Space Reconnaissance Center (SRC). The country’s wise leadership has also launched four ambitious projects related to space science and exploration in the past four years, which have successfully placed the UAE as one of the most efficient countries in the world in this sector. It is of high importance to us to see these numbers reflected in global reports,” concluded Dr. Al Junaibi.

For his part, and in his capacity as sponsor of the Space Sector Economic Survey from the Agency’s side, Naser Ahmed Al Rashedi, Director of the Space Policy and Legislation at the UAE Space Agency, commented: “More than 54 establishments have been identified operating in the UAE space sector. However, we do not have complete data on the economic statistics of these entities. Through this workshop, which is the first of its kind in the Arab and Islamic world, the UAE Space Agency aims to adequately assess the country’s space sector performance.

“These calculations are important to investors locally and globally to be able to evaluate the sector’s performance in comparison to its global counterparts. This is a key practice of the world’s advanced space agencies and organizations. The National Space Policy, which was adopted in September 2016, clearly emphasized: the importance of enhancing the space sector’s role in contributing to economic diversification; the development of a competitive, innovative and sustainable commercial space sector, and to position the UAE among the top global players in space industry,” Al Rashedi concluded.

Al Rashedi emphasised the importance of properly measuring the sector’s performance and impact based on global standards as an essential step in tracking progress towards these national space goals. Al Rashedi highlighted that in addition to an economic survey, the Agency is also working to conduct public space awareness and opinion survey to complement the results of the economic survey.

Ali Salem Buharoon, Director of the Department of Economic Statistics at FCSA, expressed the importance of this survey and the Authority’s role, stating: “FCSA has gained considerable expertise in the fields of surveys and economic statistics over the past decades. This has effectively contributed to the development of implementing national policies and strategies and has provided us with the required data for official reports across various global indicators. In the past, the FCSA and the statistical centers of the state have not conducted any specific surveys on the space sector and space industry. We have now successfully developed specific tools and models in collaboration with the Agency and other local survey institutions. We have also developed comprehensive analysis and reporting models, which is what the workshop has contributed into. In collaboration with the Space Agency, the FCSA, assisted by local centers, intends to start conducting this survey in the upcoming weeks.”

Sumaya Al Hajeri, Head of Space Policies and Legislations at the UAE Space Agency, commented: “The workshop was attended by 30 specialists and experts from the UAE Space Agency, FCSA, the Ministry of Economy, Statistical Centers, the local economic departments, MBRSC, Yahsat and a specialist in space economy from the OECD. The workshop focused on unifying the space economy and space activities concepts based on international definitions and classifications. It also reviewed the international best practices for assessing the space sector’s performance and the economic and social impact of space activities. It provided more insights on existing and upcoming OECD space reports on the field of economy and innovation.

Al Hajeri added that the workshop was successful in enhancing the knowledge of local economy entities and space industry statistic bodies, as well as developing a comprehensive and innovative model for measuring the UAE’s space industry performance and impact.

“The results and analysis of these measurements will play a key role in understanding the effectiveness of the state’s space-related policies and legislation and in identifying the required improvements,” Al Hajeri concluded.