The application for the United Arab Emirates’s Arab Space Pioneers programme is now closed due to the numerous applications received within two weeks. Officials confirmed 37,000 applications were received with the majority coming from Egypt. Out of the 37,000 applications, 27,704 were from African/Arab countries which includes Egypt (19,391), Iraq (6,447), Algeria (4,836), Morocco (3,107), UAE (692), Jordan (681), Palestine (422), Syria (406), Tunisia (370) and Saudi Arabia (361).
The three-year programme overseen by the UAE Space Agency aims to build Arab expertise in space science and technologies and empower the region’s talents in the creative and scientific industry to practice their passion in space-related studies. With applications being evaluated based on qualifications and backgrounds in science and research and creative skills.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the first-of-its-kind specialised training programme earlier in July in line with the UAE’s Hope probe launch to Mars in the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. Dr Ahmed Belhoul, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said the response to the Arab Space Pioneers programme confirms the importance of such innovative initiatives that respond to Arab youth’s aspirations.
Participants in the Arab Space Pioneers programme will receive several benefits, including a fully-covered three-year residency in the UAE, specialised training in space science and technology, an opportunity to build advanced satellites in the UAE and access to scholarships and other financial incentives. Joining the programme also increases the chance to join teams of Emirati researchers, engineers and experts in several space projects.
The intensive programme combines theoretical and hands-on practical training by enabling participants to contribute to the UAE Space Agency’s present and future projects. In the long run, the programme aims to contribute to enriching the region’s growing space sector with a pool of young Arab experts and specialists equipped with the needed skills to lead in the new field.
With several applications received from Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Sudan, this brings about the common question of where the allegiance of these countries stand. Is it with the African region or the Arab region or both? Earlier in 2019, Egypt was announced as host for the African Space Agency, and in the following month, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan joined the Arab Space Corporation group led by the UAE Space Agency.
The Arab Space Corporation group is a regional space collaboration programme which aims to empower the Arab world in the global space industry. The UAE’s space development programme for young Arabs programme is one of the implementation programs for this corporation which involve the exchange of knowledge and working on joint projects, ultimately boosting the Arab space industry.
While these countries are prominent African countries, they are also Arab countries, and they have chosen to be active in both regions. Collaborations have been an integral part of growth and development in the global space industry, and these regional collaborations and efforts have proven to be a way to go for the development of national space programs.