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Middle East cash injection to propel space industry to $75bn

Sultan Al Neyadi is one of the UAE's first astronauts. Middle East governments have stepped up investment in space Nasa Johnson
Sultan Al Neyadi is one of the UAE's first astronauts and the first Arab to serve on the International Space Station and take a space walk
  • Euroconsult predicts speedy growth
  • Can ‘change economic profile of states’
  • Spin-offs benefit other industries

The value of the Middle East space sector is expected to hit $75 billion by 2032, and a new report predicts that spending will increase by 92 percent over the next decade.

The region’s space economy has trebled in 10 years to reach an estimated $25 billion in 2023, according to the white paper published by Euroconsult this month. It is forecast to make up 8.5 percent of the global space economy by the beginning of the next decade.

Beatrice Hainaut, research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Research in Paris, told AGBI that committing to investments in space can “change the economic profile of states”.

“The space sector is a high-technology field that can irrigate a country’s economy as a whole,” she said. “This sector has economic spin-offs with high added value.”

These spin-offs are technologies originally created for Nasa missions, which have since become commercial products or services.

Nasa has documented more than 2,000 spin-offs since 1976 in sectors as varied as health and medicine, food, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and public safety.

Well-known spin-offs include freeze-dried food, cochlear implants and, more recently, ventilators to aid in the pandemic response.

Euroconsult’s paper said regional governments seeking to diversify their economies beyond hydrocarbons view space as “vital” for economic growth and space programmes were considered “pivotal assets” for Arab nations to bolster their soft power.

The report pointed out that countries in the Middle East have been prioritising domestic asset development and capacity building to “reduce dependence” on foreign entities.

This trend extends to defence, Euroconsult said, where governments are actively enhancing space-based security assets.

“Investing in space means building an image of modernity, while having the possibility of keeping its own culture,” Hainaut added. 

Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf states are all investing in space.

UAE invests $6 billion

The UAE’s investments in space-related industries surpassed $6 billion in 2023, including satellite communications, Earth and space exploration, data transmission, satellite broadcasting and mobile satellite communications.

The Emirates also has prospects in space mining, space stations, sustainability and recycling in space, space tourism, manufacturing and space academies.

This month, Nasa and the UAE announced plans for the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre to provide an airlock – a critical component for maintaining a safe environment for astronauts – for Lunar Gateway, the first space station that will orbit the moon.

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