News United Arab Emirates

Rising High: The Growing Satellite Industry in the United Arab Emirates

Satellites launched by the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been making significant strides in the satellite industry in recent years. The country has invested heavily in space technology and infrastructure, and this has resulted in several satellite launches and successful missions. In this article, we will discuss the satellite industry in the UAE, including its growth, challenges, and future prospects.

Overview of the UAE Satellite Industry

The UAE’s satellite industry is relatively new, but it has been growing rapidly in recent years. The country’s space program started in 2006, with the establishment of the UAE Space Agency, which is responsible for developing the country’s space policies and overseeing its space activities. Since then, the UAE has launched several satellites and established partnerships with other countries and international organizations.

One of the UAE’s most significant achievements in the satellite industry was the launch of the UAE’s first satellite, DubaiSat-1, in 2009. This was followed by DubaiSat-2 in 2013, which was designed and built entirely in the UAE. The country also launched its first communications satellite, Yahsat-1A, in 2011, which provides voice, data, and video services to customers in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

The UAE has also established partnerships with other countries to further its space ambitions. In 2018, the country launched the KhalifaSat, which was designed and built in the UAE with the help of South Korean engineers. In 2020, the country signed an agreement with the US to cooperate on space exploration and the peaceful use of outer space. This partnership could lead to more joint projects and collaborations between the two countries.The country also partnered with Japan to launch the Hope Probe, which successfully entered Mars’ orbit in February 2021, making the UAE the fifth country in the world to reach the Red Planet.

Challenges Facing the UAE Satellite Industry

While the UAE’s satellite industry has been growing rapidly, it faces several challenges that need to be addressed to ensure its long-term success. One of the most significant challenges is the lack of skilled workers in the industry. While the country has made significant investments in space education and training, there is still a shortage of skilled workers who can design and build satellites.

Another challenge is the high cost of satellite development and launches. Developing a satellite from scratch can be an expensive and time-consuming process, and the UAE may not have the resources to finance multiple satellite projects simultaneously. Additionally, the country relies on foreign launch providers to send its satellites into space, which can be costly.

Future Prospects for the UAE Satellite Industry

Despite the challenges facing the UAE’s satellite industry, there are several opportunities for growth and development in the future. One of the most significant opportunities is the increasing demand for satellite services, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The UAE’s strategic location and growing economy make it an attractive market for satellite companies looking to expand their services.

Another opportunity for growth in the UAE’s satellite industry is the development of small satellites. These satellites are smaller and lighter than traditional satellites, which makes them more affordable and easier to launch. Small satellites can also be used for a variety of purposes, such as earth observation, telecommunications, and scientific research.

Satellite NamePurposeOrbit/AltitudesMassDateInstitution
Thuraya 4-NGSCommunications satellite / it will replace Thuraya 2N/AN/A2024Yahsat Space Lab
Sharjah Sat 1Education

The goal is to measure X-Rays from space and take pictures of Earth with at least 100 meter/pixel GSD.
550 kmN/A2023University of Sharjah (SAASST).
DEWA-Sat 1Experimental IoT (Internet of things) Communications satellite525 kmN/A2022Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa)
DhabiSat / MYSAT 2EducationN/A1 kg2021Yahsat Space Lab and Khalifa University
DMSat 1Earth-monitoring microsatelliteN/A15 kg2021Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai
measure charged particles above thunderstorms
400 kmN/A2021UAE SA, Khalifa University, NYUAD
Falcon Eye 2High-resolution optical reconnaissance system597 km1500 kg2020Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the UAE’s armed forces
GhalibTracking migrating falconsN/A2 kg2020Marshall Intech
MeznSatDeriving greenhouse gas concentrationsN/A3 kg2020UAE Space Agency and in partnership with Masdar Institute/KU and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK)
KhalifaSatObservation satellite613 km330 kg2018Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre
MYSAT 1Educational satellite455 km1kg2018Khalifa University Space Technology And Innovation Center
YAHSAT 1C / Al Yah 3Communications satellite35,000 km3795 kg2018Al Yah Satellite Communications Company
Nayif 1Educational satellite496km1 kg2017EIAST and American University of Sharjah (AUS)
DUBAISAT 2Observation satellite600 km300 kg2013Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology
YAHSAT 1B / Al Yah 2Communications satellite35,000 km6100 kg2012Al Yah Satellite Communications Company
YAHSAT 1A / Al Yah 1Communications satellite35,000 km6000 kg2011Al Yah Satellite Communications Company
DUBAISAT 1Observation satellite680 km190 kg2009Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology
Thuraya 3Communications satelliteN/A3200 kg2008Yahsat Space Lab
Thuraya 2Communications satelliteN/A3200 kg2003Yahsat Space Lab
Satellites launched by the UAE

The overview of the satellite industry in the KSA can be found here.


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