INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE: The sky is no longer the limit
G20 Issue

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE: The sky is no longer the limit

With the world entangled in the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have shifted focus to quick wins for the here and now. But in the UAE, a new 50-year strategy has launched its space sector into orbit and is now eyeing greater competitiveness, innovation and opportunities for the future

This year has been one of the most difficult in living memory. Countries have been locked down, populations have suffered and economies have taken an enormous hit to their gross domestic product. For the business community, 2020 has meant a forced rethink of how and where we work – and we have seen organisations worldwide rise to the challenge.

It is in the response of the business community that we find hope for the future. Because, despite the pause that 2020 has forced upon us, we have seen businesses remain optimistic, hopeful and excited for the future.

This is especially evident in the United Arab Emirates, where focus has shifted to engaging youth in science – and space. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, has called the space sector a “major nerve” in the economy. Targeted investment has helped attract young people to the sciences, which aligns with the goals of the UAE’s National Space Strategy 2030. Launched in 2019 by the UAE Space Agency, the strategy seeks to make our space sector the best in the world. From providing competitive, world-class space services to forging effective partnerships and space investments and launching inspiring missions, we are excited to share where this work takes us.

The strategy feeds into the National Space Investment Plan, through which we’re working towards the objectives of UAE Vision 2021 and UAE Centennial 2071. Our long-term aim is to become an economic, social and environmental world leader and, as part of this, the plan also aligns with the Higher Policy for Science, Technology, Innovation and the strategy for the UAE’s fourth industrial revolution, 4IR.

HH Sheikh Mohammed credited the private sector for the development of the National Space Strategy, which has received $5 billion in investment from the UAE. Various projects and missions are receiving finance, including the Arab’s world’s first mission to Mars: the Hope Probe. The region watched with anticipation as scientists from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre launched the mission, which is due to enter Mars’ orbit this coming February.

The Space Centre is playing a key role in positioning us as global space leaders. The next 10 years will see ongoing work to establish a new phase of Emirati potential in space exploration and technology. For Dubai business, this means a suite of fresh opportunities – not only in the space sector, but also in related industries. Growth and development breed work, and the Dubai Chamber stands ready to support those businesses involved in pioneering a new era of technological innovation and international cooperation.

We are witnessing a shift in the UAE towards a knowledge-based economy, and it is my hope that this gear change will inspire many future generations of Arab youth.

Designing the next 50 years

Efforts in the space sector form part of the UAE’s overarching vision for the next five decades. A new project, ‘Designing the Next 50’, invites citizens and residents to unite in establishing the pillars and components of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071 as part of declaring the year ‘2020: Towards the Next 50’.

The project draws its inspiration from the work of the UAE’s founders who, 50 years ago, started a mission to involve people in shaping the country’s future – the success of which I and my fellow Emiratis can see clearly today.

It is a pleasure to see citizens and residents get a say in what the future of the region will look like – from rapid enhancements in health and education to fast-growing tourism and a deep embedding of our shared values. As we support one another through what continues to be an incredibly challenging year, there is comfort to be found in the resilience and optimism that has wound its way through these difficult months.

As the G20 hosts its summit from Riyadh, the world will be watching to see how it envisages our shared emergence from the current COVID-19 crisis. But in the UAE, with its history of implementing long-term visions, plans and strategies, eyes will also be searching farther forward – towards enhanced global competitiveness, greater innovation, stronger global competitiveness and a cemented position as the land of dreams and opportunities.