UAE Bets Big On Space Tech To Diversify From Oil

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By Michael Kern

OPEC’s third-largest oil producer, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is shooting for the moon—quite literally—as part of its space strategy to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The UAE will launch by 2024 the first-ever mission of an Arab country to the Moon, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, said on Tuesday.

“We are launching the first-ever Arab mission to the moon by 2024. The lunar rover will send back images & data from new sites of the moon that haven’t been explored by previous lunar missions. The gathered data will be shared with global research centers & institutions,” Sheikh Al Maktoum said.

“The rover will be 100% manufactured and developed in the UAE by Emirati Engineers. The UAE will be the fourth country in the world to send a mission to explore the moon. We will continue our contribution to the global pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of humanity,” he added.

The UAE, one of OPEC’s key producers and most influential members, has a National Space Policy aiming to support and protect its national interests and vital industries, and contribute to the diversification and growth of the economy.

In July this year, the UAE sent a historic first mission to Mars, sending the probe Hope, which is expected to arrive on Mars in February next year.

Despite the fact that the UAE economy is relatively diversified when compared to other Gulf oil producers, it, too, suffered a hard blow from the latest oil price crash and needed to replenish its reserves urgently. In August, the UAE also became the nation hosting the Arab World’s first nuclear power plant, which is already operational and connected to the grid.

With the start-up of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi, the UAE became the first country in the Arab world, and the 33rd nation globally, to develop a nuclear energy plant to generate electricity, helping the oil-rich emirates to move towards electrification of its energy sector and decarbonization of its electricity production, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said in August.

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