Lack of self-confidence and a culture of R&D are main reasons for Arab world lagging behind in the space sector: Al Mansoori
His Excellency Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), said that a lack of self confidence and a culture of research & development are the main reasons for the Arab world lagging behind in the space industry. He was addressing a panel discussion at the 10th Arab Conference on Astronomy and Space Sciences in Oman.
While highlighting the achievements of EIAST, especially in empowering the region’s youth to drive R&D in the space sector, Al Mansoori discussed the challenges the region faces and the opportunities that abound in the industry. He said that the space sector can make significant contributions to the different economic sectors thus contributing to the overall development of the society.
He said that it is important to invest in space research, while also building on the skills of talented young professionals, enabling them to become active participants in the sector “Providing our youth with the right skills, imparting practical skills and driving their involvement in space research globally are imperative in boosting their confidence and involvement.”
Reviewing the challenges in the space sector, Al Mansoori said that countries with a highly evolved space industry have been limiting the growth of the space industry in the Arab world by regarding the region as a mere end-user of space technology. “As a result, knowledge transfer, training and empowerment are not prioritised. EIAST is addressing this gap by focusing on knowledge transfer and empowering our human resources through their active involvement in all projects. More than the ability to buy a satellite or set up a telescope, what really matters is that our youth must be able to build these projects, which in turn will enhance their confidence in their abilities to become active participants in space research.”
On the lack of a culture of research and development and the need to link the space sector with other key areas of development, Al Mansoori said that the model of ‘horizontal globalisation - a focus on expansion and proliferation – pursued by countries with a highly evolved space industry, must give way to ‘vertical globalisation’ that emphasises exchange of expertise and transfer of knowledge.
To address these concerns, Al Mansoori said the creation of a Gulf federation of space astronomy sciences must be accelerated, clearly outlining its vision, objectives, scope of work and legalities. He also underlined the importance of selecting key strategic partners and cooperating with them to accomplish leading technology initiatives. He proposed the formation of a special committee to review and finalise commitments by all member states and to formulate a plan for setting up a funding programme to promote R&D in the space sector.
He discussed the experience of EIAST in the space industry and the success achieved through the launch of DubaiSat-1 and the launch preparation of DubaiSat-2. He emphasised that the success achieved by EIAST is the result of the continuous support extended by the UAE’s leadership, and the organisation’s focus on fostering creativity and innovation in the youth, by continuously investing in their capabilities and potential.