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 law aims to create a regulatory environment to achieve the objectives of the UAE’s National Space Policy, in addition to the following goals:
stimulating investment and encouraging private sector participation in the space sector activities
implementing safety, security and environmental measures relating to space activities
supporting the UAE’s commitment to implement the provisions of international conventions and treaties related to outer space.
Space activities regulated by the law
Article 4 of the law mentions several space activities that the law regulates. The activities are:
launch, re-enter, remove or dispose a space object from the orbit
·operate space objects and satellite communication activities
provide logistical support services in outer space
manage space data activities
collect or trade meteorites that fall in the UAE.
Requirement of a permit
According to the law, no one may own a space object, carry out or participate in space activities, or establish, use or possess related space facilities without obtaining a permit from UAE Space Agency. The law covers the role of UAE Space Agency as the federal entity in charge of regulating the space sector.
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
Information and communication technology
The UAE is very keen on developing her capabilities in the field of information and communication technology and is continuously undertaking measures to achieve that.
One of the first steps was setting up free zones such as Dubai Internet City (in 1999) and Dubai Media City (in 2000) to support technology companies in the UAE and boost technological advancements and economic growth in the UAE and the Middle East. Later, in 2005, Dubai Silicon Oasis was established.
Today, there are several free zones in the UAE that make publishing through modern information and communication technology possible. Some of the free zones are:
The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority set up ICT Fund in 2008. The primary role of the Fund is to apportion funds to projects that develop the UAE's capabilities in the field of information and communication technology. Until 2014, the ICT Fund invested more than AED1.6 billion in various projects in information and communications technology sector including in education and space technology.
ICT in government
The UAE Government is very eager to use ICT tools to not only deliver services in quick and easy manner but also to provide customised services in the future. In 2001, the UAE launched its first eService - the eDirham card - as a mode of payment for government and non-government services.
During the following years, more eServices were added leading to the conception and realisation of the UAE's eGovernment programme.
In May 2013, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed launched the UAE Mobile Government Initiative with the aim to deliver government services to the public round-the-clock through mobile phones, smart devices, kiosks, wearable technologies, drones and robots.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation was established to stimulate and enrich the culture of innovation within the government sector through the development of an integrated innovation framework. The goal is that innovation should become one of the key pillars of the UAE government in line with the vision of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed. which aims to develop government operations and enhance the UAE's competitiveness, making the UAE one of the most innovative governments around the world.
Moreover, Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi Government company, is investing in a global portfolio of world-class information and communications technology assets, and providing high-tech employment opportunities in IT, technology, telecoms and satellite operations.
Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (Gitex) is an annual event held in Dubai. The event brings participation of companies presenting the latest in ICT technology. The event is complemented with a conference that provides a platform for discussing ICT related topics. Gitex is hugely popular amongst exhibitors and visitors in the region. Regional governments too participate in it.
Life science and technology
Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech), a free zone founded in 2005, supported the growth and development of the life sciences field in the region.
Dubai Science Park facilitates research and development for companies conducting research development in the field of life sciences. It provides excellent laboratories and other ancillary services needed for such work.
The following institutes conduct medical research in the UAE.
Medical Research Section,Department of Health - Abu Dhabi
Develop the best methods to improve public health by addressing priority disease conditions and monitoring progress towards achieving targets
Create a world class health research environment that protects human subjects, generates productive research and fosters professional development of health care practitioners
Support 'The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030' (PDF) by contributing to the society's economic diversification into knowledge-based industries, including vibrant health research, biotechnology, and life sciences sectors.
Al Jalila Foundation
Al Jalila Foundation conducts medical research and provides medical education and treatment in the UAE. It also offers scholarships in medical studies. It would be the UAE's first independent multi-disciplinary medical research centre that would focus on cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and mental health.
Public Health Research Center
New York University Abu Dhabi has a Public Health Research Center (PHRC). It has developed the following specialised centres to conduct research in areas that concern the emirate of Abu Dhabi:
Diabetes Research Center
Obesity and Genetic Susceptibility to Diabetes Research Center
Human Oral Microbiome Research Center
Smoking Cessation Research Center.
In April 2016, H. H. Sheikh Mohammed launched the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy. This initiative aims to exploit technology for the service of humanity and promote the status of the UAE and Dubai as a leading hub of 3D printing technology by the year 2030.
Medical products are one of the three key sectors of this strategy. The focus will be on developing 3D printed teeth, bones, artificial organs and medical and surgical devices and hearing aids.
The technology will enable doctors in the next five years to print out replicas of organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain etc. Thus, patients will benefit from shorter waiting times and cheaper treatment options.
By 2025, doctors will have access to 3D printing machines to create ceramic teeth in less than 20 minutes. The technology will be also used in orthopaedic surgery and to print casts.
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced that Dubai would start producing artificial limbs using 3D printing for less than AED 400 by 2025. This will part of the aim making Dubai a global capital of 3D printing technologies by 2030-in medical services.
The authority expects that the use of 3D printing can accelerate patients' healing process by up to 80 per cent.
The value of 3D printed medical products in Dubai is expected to be reach AED 1.7 billion by 2025.
The UAE has banned human cloning and research and experiments related to it.
Nuclear science and technology
The UAE is working to deliver safe, clean and efficient nuclear energy. Nuclear reactors are destined to become the UAE's second most important source of energy in the UAE after natural gas, producing about 25 per cent of the UAE's electricity by 2020 and ensuring the continued economic development of the nation.
In December 2009, H. H. Sheikh Khalifa established by decree Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) for implementing the UAE nuclear energy programme. ENEC specialises in the deployment, ownership and operation of nuclear power plants within the UAE.
The UAE's nuclear power plant has been set up at Baraka in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. The plants have APR1400 nuclear reactors whose design was developed by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).
In February 2016, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced the completion of Cold Hydrostatic Testing (CHT) at Unit 1. The CHT checks that welds, joints, pipes and components of the reactor coolant system and associated high-pressure systems meet quality standards, as per the regulations of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
According to the website of ENEC, Unit 1 is expected to begin providing electricity to the UAE grid in 2017. Plans are for the following three units to be completed in 2018, 2019 and 2020. These dates are subject to regulatory approval from FANR.
Developing science and technology through education
The UAE has many colleges, institutes, centres etc. that support and promote the research, development and education of various sciences. They offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in various fields of science and technology. Some of them are: