Space is a key sector in the UAE’s Higher Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation (PDF, 350 KB). The UAE has set a goal to send an unmanned spacecraft to Mars by 2021 as part of the Hope Mars Mission. The UAE is seeking opportunities to explore celestial bodies, develop satellite communications technology and deploy the latest space technologies in terrestrial applications. The UAE recognises the need for the applications of remote sensing through satellites, including natural resource mapping, environmental monitoring, land-use planning and security.
The UAE’s National Space Policy
The UAE’s National Space Policy (PDF, 250 KB) aims to build a strong and sustainable space sector that supports and protects national interests and vital industries, contributes to the diversification and growth of the economy, boosts specialized competencies, develops scientific and technological capabilities, engrains the culture of innovation and national pride, and strengthens the UAE’s status and role regionally and globally.
As per data of April 2015, THE UAE's investments in space technologies have already exceeded AED20 billion, including investments made in the satellite data and TV broadcast company - Al Yah Satellite Communication, the mobile satellite communication company - Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications and the Earth mapping and observation system - Dubai Sat.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) (previously known as Emirates Institution for Advanced Science & Technology), is known for launching and placing into orbit of satellites DubaiSat 1 and DubaiSat 2, providing satellite imagery, satellite image analysis, ground station leasing and antenna hosting service. MBRSC developied also the UAE's fifth satellite - KhalifaSat.
KhalifaSat is one of the most technologically advanced remote sensing observation satellites that was manufactured by a team of Emirati engineers from MBRSC.
KhalifaSat provides high-quality detailed imagery enabling the UAE to provide competitive services all over the world in the satellite imagery sector. The images will be used in urban planning and management, which ensure effective optimisation of land use and realistic infrastructure proposals.
UAE Space Agency
The UAE has established several centres and entities to support research and development of space sciences. The UAE established the UAE Space Agency under Federal Law by Decree No. 1 of 2014. The UAE Space Agency 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 about the importance of space technologies, enhance national capabilities and encourage peaceful application of space research.
Mission to Mars
The UAE Space Agency and MBRSC have signed an agreement to build an unmanned probe to Mars. The UAE would be the first Arab and Islamic country to be sending an unmanned spacecraft to Mars. The UAE would send the spacecraft by 2021, coinciding with the country's 50th anniversary. The UAE Space Agency would execute the mission with support from international partners.
Watch this video about UAE mission to Mars
Mars Scientific City
In line with Mars 2117 Strategy, which seeks to build the first settlement on Mars in the next 100 years, the UAE will build a complex of buildings called Mars Science City.The AED 500 million city will cover 1.9 million square feet making it the largest space-simulation city ever built.
The project encompasses laboratories for food, energy and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security in the future. A range of experiments will be devised to lead innovation around self-sufficiency in energy, water and food.
Mars Science City will also boast a museum that displays humanity’s greatest space achievements, including educational areas meant to engage young citizens with space and inspire a passion in them for exploration and discovery. The walls of the museum will be 3D printed, using sand from the UAE’s deserts.
Mars Science City project includes an experiential element. It will provide a viable and realistic model to simulate living on Mars. A team of scientists and astronauts will live in the simulated red planet for one year.
The UAE Space Agency is working on the establishment of the first space research centre in the Middle East. The centre, which will cost nearly AED100 million over five years, is the result of a strategic partnership between the UAE Space Agency, UAE University and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority represented by the ICT Fund.
The centre will act as an incubator for space research and innovation, to help individuals and universities interested to have the ability of contributing to space research.
National Space Programme
The UAE launched the National Space Programme under which the UAE will prepare Emirati cadres specialised in airspace sciences. Young Emirati cadres will execute the National Space Programme. Launching the National Space Programme is part of the UAE’s ambitious space programme of reaching Mars by 2021 and building the first settlement there by 2117. Read more about the National Space Programme.
The UAE Astronaut Programme
The UAE Astronaut Programme was launched in 2017 to train and prepare a team of Emiratis to be sent to space for various scientific missions. Read more about the UAE Astronaut Programme.
Watch this video about the UAE Astronaut Programme