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UAE moves closer tomaking first Arab mission to Mars a reality

The UAE has taken one step closer to its planned mission to Mars with the signing of a partnership agreement between the Emirati Mars probe teams in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Under the seven-year deal, which will create the Arab world’s first mission to another planet, the UAE Space Agency will supervise and finance the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) to execute and manage all stages of the Mars probe project.

During the meeting, HH Sheikh Mohammed stressed the significance of the project in view of the fact that it is fully managed by Emirati teams in cooperation with international partners.

“We have seven years to develop all the knowledge, skills and infrastructure needed to reach Mars. Such great challenges require the strongest teams. To travel into space, we must be determined enough to reach for the sky. A historic mission lies ahead of us. This mission will be a work of national pride, a great Arab achievement, and a valuable contribution to science and humanity,” HH Sheikh Mohammed said.

The agreement, signed at the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation, sets the timeframes as well as the legal and financial frameworks for the Mars project.It emphasises that the benefits of scientific and technical know-how created by the Mars team engineers should be shared with other sectors under the supervision of the UAE Space Agency, such as the telecommunications, aerospace and satellite industries.

The UAE entered the global race to explore outer space in July 2014 when President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan unveiled the space agency and announced plans to launch a scientific voyage of discovery to the red planet by 2021.

These announcements defined a turning point in the country’s development and established space technology as a new driver for diversified economic growth. The Mars mission is aimed at enriching Emirati capabilities as well as raisinghuman knowledge about space exploration and distant planets.

The planned probe, which will take nine months to make the journey to Mars,will place the UAE in an elite group of only nine countries with space programmes to explore the red planet. It is scheduled to arrive in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE.

The UAE Space Agency,which reports to the Cabinet and enjoys financial and administrative independence, is responsible for organising, supervising and managing the nation’s space sector as well as supporting its contribution to the national economy.

The agency works to raise awareness of the importance of space technologies, enhance national expertise, and encourage peaceful scientific progress in this field. It provides technical and advisory support for all stakeholders in the country.

UAE investments in space technologies already exceed AED20 billion,and includes satellite data and TV broadcast company Al Yah Satellite Communications, mobile satellite communication company Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications, and Earth mapping and observation system Dubai Sat.

Globally, space technologies are becoming increasingly important to the security and economy of nations.Backed by massive national programmes and establishments in many cases, the sector is integral to several critical areas – from telecommunications and navigation to broadcasting and monitoring of weather and natural disasters. The industry is estimated to be worth around $300 billion globally and growing by around 8% annually.