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UAE takes next step in developing satellite industry

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan have implemented the next phase of the Sirb satellite programme Dubai Media Office
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan have implemented the next phase of the Sirb satellite programme
  • First launch due in 2026
  • ‘Turning point’ for UAE
  • Private sector embraced

The Crown Princes of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have launched the execution phase of the UAE’s Sirb satellite programme, which aims to commercialise satellites and the data they generate. 

Sirb – Arabic for a flock of birds – consists of a constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites. 

Highly accurate, the satellites will support a wide range of scientific and commercial applications, from monitoring environmental changes to natural disaster management and mapping.

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum were also briefed on the plan to set up a national industrial consortium under the supervision of the UAE Space Agency.

The first satellite, which will be launched in 2026, will complement the UAE’s investment in remote sensing technologies that serve different sectors using various satellite images. 

Radar satellites have the capability to capture images, day or night, and irrespective of atmospheric conditions. 

Sheikh Khaled said: “We are focusing on creating opportunities for national companies and the private sector to be part of this significant journey, and to support the development of the space sector’s infrastructure.”

Sheikh Hamdan described Sirb as a “strategic turning point” in the UAE space sector, transitioning from a governmental and academic sector to one that embraces private sector support in the development of microtechnology. 

“Empowering startups, SMEs and entrepreneurs tops our priority list, as they are the main drivers for economic growth,” he added.

UAE-based defence and technology company Edge will assume the role of a strategic partner to manage the programme.

Yahsat and Bayanat will both manage satellite operations and data, and the UAE’s National Space Science and Technology Center will provide assembly, integration and testing operations.

The consortium will continue to expand to further support the growth of the space private sector.

Last year, the UAE launched a AED3 billion ($820 million) fund to support international and Emirati companies co-operating in space sector engineering, sciences and research applications.

Sirb was the first project to be supported by the National Space Fund, which is managed and supervised by the UAE Space Agency.

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