The Aerospace Industry in the UAE

The UAE is home to a flourishing aerospace industry that has quickly grown to become one of the largest markets in the world. The region has a strong demand for businesses that provide both civilian and military aircraft. And despite the economic setbacks of the global pandemic, this industry is projected to grow tremendously in the upcoming years.

There has been steady growth in the civil aviation industry in recent years, with it now outmatching many other markets due to heavy investments from the UAE government. In fact, there has been a growth rate of roughly 7.2% annually between 2015 and 2019 alone. As a result of this considerable investment, there has been an enormous boom in demand for aircraft, equipment, parts, and special services.

Between Dubai’s International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, and the convenient geographic location of the UAE, it’s no surprise that aviation and aerospace will inevitably grow to become an economic powerhouse for the nation.

Space is a Promising New Business Sector

The United Arab Emirates has long recognized the importance of developing a competitive space program. The nation has already seen some success in recent years, with the first Emirati astronaut arriving at the International Space Station in 2019. But believing there are many lucrative business opportunities to be found in space exploration, the government has heavily invested in the official UAE Space Agency.

So much, in fact, that by 2019 the UAE had spent nearly 6 billion dollars on the program, developing a wide number of satellite missions and even a famous unmanned probe to Mars that is still currently underway.

This investment in space has even been at the forefront of several important conferences at the Dubai Expo 2020. At the space business forum at the Expo, Hamad Baumim, the President of Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce, was quoted as saying, “There could be no better place or time for space, which is evolving, growing, and set to become the UAE’s most promising sector….”

Bringing the Private Sector to Space

The UAE is also hoping to establish itself as a global hub for civil and commercial space activities by encouraging private investors and businesses to take part. Additionally, the UAE has launched new initiatives to advance aerospace technologies by improving manufacturing capabilities and facilities. This initiative has paid off in spades, with private investors and companies investing nearly 2.5 billion dollars and forming over 70 new companies that now operate in the sector.

To empower this enormous effort, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center has launched a program known as “Space Ventures,” a startup incubator for businesses forming in the space sector. This endeavor intends to help companies gain access to technology and receive help in working with the various regulatory agencies.

With billionaires like Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson forming their own space exploration and tourism businesses, the UAE sees a pivotal opportunity to bring in companies worldwide to develop a private space sector that is globally respected and favorably impacts their overall economy.

The Future of the UAE Space Program

In 2019, the UAE established a framework for its space industry. This National space strategy aims to boost the nation’s competitiveness in the global space industry, build new lucrative partnerships, and develop overall advancements by the year 2030. This initiative includes a road map of plans that include:

• Satellites

The UAE has launched many smaller communication satellites in recent years, including the KhalifaSat, one of the most technologically advanced observation satellites. The KhalifaSat is capable of capturing high-quality imagery for urban planning and development.

• 2024 Lunar Mission

The UAE aims to develop and send a lunar rover to the moon by the year 2024. This rover’s intent will be to study the components and thermal properties of lunar soil and will involve measuring photoelectrons and dust particles on the moon’s surface.

• Mission to Mars

In addition to an unmanned probe that is currently underway, the UAE has established a large, multi-faceted plan named the “Mars 2117 Strategy,” an undertaking that plans to form a full colony on Mars within 100 years.

• Space Centers

The UAE Space Agency has established numerous operations centers to form the first official space research center in the Middle East. This space center comes as the result of a critical partnership between the UAE Space Agency, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, and the UAE University.

The UAE Space Laws

The UAE’s space sector is governed by Federal law No. 12 and seeks to create a well-regulated business environment to achieve the UAE’s long-term business goals. This law also stimulates private sector investment and participation and standardizes safety and security protocols for space activities. Under this law, space activities are limited to:

• Launch, re-entry, and removal or disposal of space objects from orbit

• Providing logistical support services

• Managing space data

• Collecting or trading meteorites that fall in the UAE

• Operating space objects, including spacecraft and communication satellites.

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