Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip
(Image from Space.com)

The UAE Space Agency announced plans aimed at attracting private investors in the country’s developing space industry.

According to Dr. Mohamed Nasser Al Ahbabi, chief of the UAE Space Agency, they have recently completed a Space Investment Strategy, which seeks to encourage local companies to invest in space.

He noted that investors often consider space ventures as “high risk” and want proper laws and regulations that will provide them with adequate legal protection.

“We are working on space regulations as well. You have to think about the space economy.

Investors want to make sure if they invest, they have the right environment. So, we need space regulations and laws to protect the local operator and to encourage foreign investors,” Dr. Al Ahbabi said.

For now, he said the plan is to focus on building capability and establishing a space economy by encouraging local small and medium-scale enterprises as well as universities with adequate funding.

“We try to encourage companies to establish space companies in the UAE. It will take some time but we are building the basis and enablers and I think it’s coming,” Dr. Al Ahbabi said.

According to Dr. Al Ahbabi commercializing the space industry has “become a trend” and that governments are keen on having private sector investments.

He pointed out that the US space agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is working with private companies such as Boeing and SpaceX. NASA recently announced its crew of nine astronauts who will carry out the first test in commercial space flights.

“The governments want to push private sectors into investing in space and this is the right thing for sustainability. The governments will put some money, but they need the private sector to bring investment and ideas,” he said.

The UAE is also trying to foray into the commercial space industry through its partnership with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – a spacecraft that aims to promote space tourism, with each ticket costing about $250,000.

“We are in talks with Virgin Galactic to operate with the UAE. I think in the future, when that industry has matured, the UAE will be the best destination for them. It’s not just Virgin, but also Blue Origin. We also did a study in Al Ain Airport and it’s perfect for them because it’s not busy.” WAM

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