The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) Lecture No (706), Eng. Omran Sharaf: “The UAE Has Achieved a Qualitative Leap in the Space Sector”

The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) organized a lecture titled ‘A Future Perspective on the Space, Science and Technology Sector’, delivered by Eng. Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) – Hope Probe, at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), United Arab Emirates. The lecture was held on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, and was attended by H.E. Prof. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), and an elite group of researchers, thinkers and media professionals, who gathered in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Hall, at the Center’s complex in Abu Dhabi.

The lecture is part of the ECSSR’s activities that focus on pertinent issues through rich scientific research that stays abreast of the latest technological advances.

At the beginning of the lecture, Eng. Sharaf thanked H.E. Prof. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi for inviting him to speak, and expressed his appreciation for the Center’s continued focus on scientific and technological issues in its diverse program of specialized lectures and symposia.

Eng. Sharaf then presented a historical overview of the developmental stages of the UAE’s space sector, which dates back to the establishment of the nation and has accompanied the civilizational renaissance the UAE has witnessed. He highlighted how the UAE began to develop its satellite telecommunications sector by utilizing space telecommunications technology, and took a significant step in the early 1990s when it established the Thuraya Telecommunications Company. This important milestone marked a significant shift for the UAE, from users of satellites to becoming satellite operators, which was swiftly followed by the UAE’s participation in the assembly of satellites. In the beginning, the focus was on how to operate and control satellites, in order to establish the foundations of the UAE’s infrastructure. The state also paid particular attention to educating and training personnel for the space sector. The UAE has focused on producing scientists and engineers, in all engineering specialisms, in order to elevate its space sector and achieve national goals in technological and scientific advancement.

In 2006, the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology was established to promote the UAE science sector. Eng. Sharaf stressed that this new phase was of particular importance, as the UAE economy is highly dependent on technology.

Eng. Sharaf then detailed some of the UAE’s successfully completed projects, such as remote sensing satellites DubaiSat-1, DubaiSat-2 and KhalifaSat. He explained that at a later stage, the decision was taken to prepare for a trip to Mars; a project that is not only significant for the UAE, but for the entire Arab region, which has suffered the effects of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, and the rise of extremist groups and ideas.

As a result of this decision, the Hope Probe Mars Mission emerged, which Eng. Sharaf explained is due to launch in mid-July 2020. The probe is expected to reach Mars before December 2, 2021, which coincides with the Golden Jubilee of the UAE.

Eng. Sharaf explained that this promising project is full of opportunities and challenges. Its aim is to conduct comprehensive research on the Red Planet’s environment, seasons and surface temperature. Objectives also include enhancing various UAE sectors, while motivating scientists and giving them opportunities, similar to those offered in the development of engineers. Eng. Sharaf stressed that the UAE is moving forward, as it seeks to achieve its 2017 Vision, to become the world’s leading nation by its centennial.