Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

PIF launches space unit, despite Saudi funding constraints

PIF space unit Creative Commons/Negative Space
Saudi Arabia leads the Gulf’s satellite sector, having launched 35 out of the region’s 60 satellites
  • Neo Space Group to invest in satellites
  • Will also include space startup fund
  • Middle East space sector worth $25bn

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has launched a space unit to develop off-planet commercial activities, despite challenges the sovereign wealth fund faces funding Saudi Arabia’s giga-projects

The PIF-owned Neo Space Group will invest in satellite navigation and communications, Earth observation and remote sensing.

It will also include a venture capital fund to help Saudi startups and training in the space sector, a statement said on May 27. 

“The establishment of NSG marks an important milestone in the development of the growing satellite and space sector in Saudi Arabia and the ambition to be a leading commercial player in the global satellite sector,” said Omar Al-Madhi, co-head of Mena Direct Investments at PIF. 

The name Neo Space Group harks back to Neom, the PIF-owned city at the heart of the Saudi giga-projects. It is a shortening of Neo-Mustaqbal, meaning “new future”.

Aerospace is the latest sector for PIF to embrace as part of the country’s massive economic transformation programme it is charged with leading. Saudi Arabia already has a space agency that plans to launch two nanosatellites per year

Although PIF is now valued at $925 billion, it is carrying a burden of funding $1.25 trillion of projects as a result of budget deficits, higher interest rates and a dearth of foreign investment. 

Some projects are being pared back or reorganised. Neom’s horizontal city The Line will now open in 2030 at less than 5km long instead of the planned 170km. 

The Middle East’s space economy trebled over the past decade to an estimated $25 billion last year and is forecast to make up 8.5 percent of the global space economy by the beginning of the next decade.

Saudi Arabia leads the Gulf’s satellite sector, having launched 35 out of the region’s 60 satellites, according to a report by the German company SpaceTech in 2023. 

Halo Space, a Madrid-based company that is developing a craft for flights into the Earth’s stratosphere, has chosen the kingdom as one of its departure bases. It plans to launch a test flight from Saudi Arabia in June.

Latest articles

Opec Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais says peak oil 'is not on the horizon'

Upstream oil and gas ‘needs more annual investment’

Annual capital expenditure for exploration and production in the upstream sector of the oil industry needs to increase by 22 percent by 2030 because of growing demand and cost inflation, experts say. A cumulative $4.3 trillion needs to be invested between 2025 and 2030, according to a report by the International Energy Forum (IEF) and […]

Rothschild Saudi

Edmond de Rothschild to run funding vehicle for Saudi projects

The Edmond de Rothschild Group is establishing a funding vehicle for infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia along with the local firm SNB Capital, as part of a deal in which the Swiss investment bank will set up offices in the country.  Saudi Arabia’s massive economic diversification programme has run into financial obstacles as it faces […]

Turkey foreign property sales

Foreigners turning back on Turkish real estate

Foreign buyers are increasingly shunning the Turkish property market, wary of high prices, the expensive cost of living and a less welcoming environment for overseas real estate investors. There were only 2,064 residential units sold to foreign buyers in May, 35 percent down on the same month last year, data issued by the state statistics […]

2KEY8G1 Emirates Airline Airbus A380 aircraft landing. Aerial view of Emirates Airlines A380-800 airplane. An Emirates plane coming in to land at LAX; a spokesperson for Emirates said the contraventions were for safety reasons

US fines Emirates for operating in prohibited airspace

Emirates has been fined $1.5 million by the US Transportation Department for operating flights carrying JetBlue Airways’ JBLU.O designator code in prohibited airspace. The transportation department said that between December 2021 and August 2022, Emirates operated a significant number of flights carrying the JetBlue Airways code between the United Arab Emirates and the United States […]