Salem Al Marri, the Assistant Director General for Scientific & Technical Affairs at Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, met up with ROOM’s managing editor Clive Simpson during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, to discuss some of the foreword-looking and far-reaching ambitions of the United Arab Emirates space programme.
What is the background to the UAE’s national space programme and what led to its formation?
The UAE is focusing today on developing a space sector and this is part of diversifying the economy away from an oil-based one to a knowledge-based economy. An economy based on science and technology, STEM education and the empowerment of youth. We started on this road around 2005/2006 and this is one of the major pushes that UAE is focusing on: developing a space centre.
Just over 10 years ago we launched a national space programme which has four main areas of focus. The first is the national satellite development programme, under which we worked with South Korea to develop our first remote testing satellite, DubaiSat-1. A key goal behind this knowledge transfer programme was to develop both our skills and future satellites.