China Targets Partnership With Gulf Countries For Space Exploration
Gulf nations are undertaking new initiatives to support their domestic space industry as part of the push to embrace emerging technology and take advantage of their potential commercial benefits. The Saudi Space Commission, which was established in 2018, will become the Saudi Space Agency (SSA) with the approval of the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia in June, highlighting the Kingdom's dedication to the space industry and exploration endeavors.
After Saudi Arabia's first space mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was launched successfully in May, the action was taken. The Saudi government financed the expedition, which featured two Saudi astronauts, one of whom was the first Arab woman astronaut and a stem cell researcher. The mission was managed by Houston-based Axiom Space, which after disengaging from the ISS plans to construct the first commercial space station.
The UAE has made significant progress in space as well. The UAE became the sixth nation in the world and the first in the Arab world to orbit Mars in 2021 after announcing its National Space Strategy 2030 in 2019. Since then, it has launched its own Hope Probe, opened four space research and development centers, and established national space laws and regulations.
Massive upfront capital expenditure on projects that might not pay off for several years is required for the development of the space sector and the pursuit of ambitious exploration plans. Gulf nations have substantial experience investing in oil and gas over these time horizons, and they also align with their long-term economic diversification plans.