Nov 10, 2009

Abu Dhabi takes centre stage as spotlight falls on regional space race

Estimated Article Reading Time: 4 min.

Abu Dhabi’s position as an emerging hub of the developing Arab space industry will be highlighted when a distinguished international line-up of experts and key decision makers gather in the UAE capital for next month’s Global Space Technology Forum.

The second edition of the event is being staged at a time when Abu Dhabi has moved to the forefront of increased regional space industry activity with major investment in an Earth Observation Space Centre, a Virgin Galactic Space Port and the Yahsat telecommunications satellite programme.

Saudi Arabia’s HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Arab, the first Muslim and the first Royal to visit space, will deliver the opening keynote address on the role of space technology in regional economic development at the Global Space Technology Forum, taking place from December 7-9 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. .

HRH Prince Sultan, who is President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, flew as a payload specialist on the space shuttle Discovery in June 1985 as part of a seven-member international crew which also included American and French astronauts.

There are currently more than 20 emerging national space projects in the Middle East and Africa which is evolving as one of the key growth markets for the global space industry, and Abu Dhabi’s pioneering role in this regional development is underlined by the presence of many major players at the Global Space Technology Forum (www.smg-conferences.com/gstf/).

A summer launch by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology’s (EIAST) of the UAE’s first remote sensing satellite, DubaiSat-1, and Yahsat’s planned telecommunication satellite launches, is evidence that the UAE is leading the way in the creation of a regional space programme.

In recent months Abu Dhabi based 4C GEOC has announced plans for a US$1 billion dollar Earth Observation Space Centre while Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments has taken a $280 million, 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic. As part of the deal Aabar plans to build a spaceport in Abu Dhabi and will have rights to all Virgin Galactic traffic in the region. Aabar is also setting aside $100 million to build a small satellite launching facility.

Organised by Streamline Marketing Group, the Global Space Technology Forum combines a two-day conference on space projects, new technologies and commercial opportunities, a high-level Advanced Sat-Com Conference highlighting advances in satellite communications, a three-day exhibition of the latest space technology equipment and services and pre-scheduled meetings for exhibitors with key representatives from leading MENA space projects.

Following the keynote address by HRH Prince Sultan, Michael O’Brien, Assistant Administrator for External Relations at NASA, will highlight the need for international collaboration for the success of space initiatives emerging in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Dr. Jose Achache,Director of Group on Earth Observations (GEO) will deliver the third keynote address of the opening session, on Earth Observation Systems – Opportunities and Challenges. Ahmed Al Mansoori, Director General of Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), will present a case study on space programmes in emerging space nations during a session on space policy, regulation and economics.

Martin Gee, Chief Technical Officer at Al Yahsat Satellite Communications will be among four speakers to examine commercial opportunities related to space.

The second day of the conference begins with a presentation by Sir Martin Sweeting, CEO of Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd, on innovation in design and technology for small satellites.

Space borne security and surveillance systems will feature in the afternoon. Tomaz Lovreneie, Deputy Director of the European Union Satellite Centre, speaks on geospatial intelligence support to European security and defence policy operations while Declan Kirrane, Chairman at ISC Intelligence in Science, discusses the security and defence role of Galileo and GMES.

The Advanced Sat-Com Conference opens on the final day of the Forum with a session on the future of communication and role of satellites with keynote addresses by Gregory Francis, Managing Director of Access Partnership and Rachel Villain, Director Space and Communications at Euroconsult.

Baard Eilertsen, CEO at Orbital Satellite Services will speak on in-orbit servicing of telecommunication satellites during a session on the next generation of communication satellites. During the session on Sat-Com services and applications, Salah Hamzah, CTO at Nilesat will share his thoughts on key differentiators which set apart the satellite market in the Middle East from the rest of the world.

The Global Space Technology Forum is sponsored by LSE Space Middle East, Yahsat and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and has the support of the UAE Space Reconnaissance Center, EIAST, the International Space University, UAE University, the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, the National Space Society and the Society of Engineers, UAE, highlighting strong support from the international space community.

© 2009 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

other links

EyeofDubai