[SatNews] Recently, the UAE Space Agency continued its efforts to strengthen international strategic partnerships, including improving the UAE's role and place within the international space sector, with an official visit to the United States.
The agency delegation was headed by Khalifa Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency board and the agency's Director-General, Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi. The agenda for the trip included official visits and gatherings with various entities in Washington, D.C. aimed at seeking out and improving cooperative frameworks and partnerships between the two countries in the field of space.
The five-day trip to the US started with a visit to the U.S. State Department where the two parties explored opportunities for partnership between the UAE and the United States in the space sector, on both the civil and security sides. The also discussed how the US could share its advanced knowledge and expertise within this dynamic field to the UAE as well as benefit from the UAE's recent establishment of the Space Agency. The US side congratulated the UAE on the establishment of the UAE Space Agency and its understanding of the importance that this sector will play in the development of a knowledge-based economy in the UAE.
The delegation also participated in the SATELLITE 2015 Show and Exhibition in Washington DC. The event was attended by Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and Thuraya Telecommunications Company, who both exhibited under one booth that comprised a UAE pavilion at the show. The conference was also attended by the Emirates Institution for Science and Advanced Technology (EIAST). A reception ceremony hosted by Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the UAE to the United States of America, was held at the UAE Embassy in Washington to introduce the UAE Space Agency and Emirati space sector to stakeholders in the United States.
More than 340 people attended the event representing a number of government agencies and private corporations.In a speech during the ceremony, Al Ahbabi explained the importance of the space sector for the UAE, saying, "The UAE seeks to set in place a long-term strategic plan to develop a solid foundation for a sustainable space sector that will be one of the primary engines of the UAE's economy and which contributes to the development of a diverse, knowledge-based economy. The United Arab Emirates and the United States of America are strategic allies and have deep economic ties. This partnership offers many opportunities for both countries, particularly in the field of space, and we invite the American space industry to come visit us in the UAE and learn about our own space sector, and explore ways both countries can collaborate."
With growing trade relationships, the UAE is one of the largest export markets for the U.S. in the Middle East. The value of U.S. exports to the UAE in 2014 exceeded US$24 billion and more than 1,000 US companies operate in the UAE.
The delegation also visited NASA's headquarters. There they were received by the leadership who discussed different previous and ongoing projects NASA had as well as future opportunities of collaboration with the UAE Space Agency. The delegation also toured the Goddard Space Flight Center and listened to a detailed presentation on NASA's current projects and the facility's capabilities in satellite production, space discovery and remote sensors. The two agencies reviewed possibilities for cooperation and carrying out joint projects as well as cooperation in educational and training programs. The tour ended with a visit to the facility's Mission Operations Centre.
Throughout their visit, the delegation met with several major industry players including, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Astrobotic, Virgin Galactic, and others where they explored avenues of cooperation and viewed satellite technologies adopted by these companies.