Tuesday, June 9, 2015

To help humanity, innovate and go to space

ABU DHABI-- UAE Space Agency Chief Corporate Officer, Sheikha Al Maskari has said that the agency's plans and objectives are to develop UAE nationals to help better serve humanity, highlighting the importance of the space sector and the role that innovation plays within it.

Al Maskari highlighted this objective during a panel discussion on innovation within the government sector, which was part of the summit held at the Burj Al Arab Hotel on Thursday. The event included participation from a number of national speakers and leaders from various sectors at state level.

Describing innovation as the transformation of an idea from a theoretical project to a product or service that is useful to society, Al Maskari explained that this is what the space sector has presented over the past five decades, noting that through innovation, humans have managed to harness space science for peaceful and good uses, and for a the promotion of knowledge, service and the advancement of national economies.

She added that the space sector is one of the seven most important sectors within the UAE’s national innovation strategy, which was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, at the end of last year. The strategy will be implemented through a programme spanning seven years and will aim to position the UAE as a leading country within innovation.

By launching the UAE Space Agency, the UAE has highlighted to the international community that the space sector and innovation represent two key pillars for national economic growth and sustainable development.

Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, said that the agency has put together an ambitious plan for encouraging innovation within the country through a range of programmes and initiatives that will embed the role of the space sector in the country. He added that participating in such events emphasises the commitment of the agency to innovation and also that the space sector will play an important role in improving quality of life.

Dr. Al Ahbabi said that one of the aims of the UAE Space Agency which was outlined in the strategic launch focuses on encouraging and supporting scientific research in space. The agency also aims to organise and develop the national space sector to international standards so that it will have benefits for the nation by diversifying the economy and helping with sustainable development. In order to achieve this, he said, the UAE Space Agency will help develop pioneers within the country who will go on to lead space science, technology and exploration.

Panel participants included Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of the Licensing Agency at the Roads and Transport Authority, RTA, in Dubai, Hind Al Mualla, Head of Community Relations in the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, and Essam Disi, Director of Strategy and Policy at the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises Development.

Sheikha Al Maskari added that there needs to be a large number of Emiratis entering the space sector, and that the UAE Space Agency has therefore developed a range of plans that will help raise awareness in Emirati and Arab youth so that they can become pioneers of the industry in the future.

The UAE Space Agency has launched learning and training programmes aimed at youths and has developed a partnership with Airbus Group for the "Little Engineers" workshops. This has been responsible for encouraging students to learn about space and technology, and has also helped improve teamwork, communication skills, analytical thought, creativity and public speaking.

The agency has also entered into cooperation discussions with universities across the UAE, including Khalifa University, UAE University, Sharjah University, Higher Colleges of Technology, New York University Abu Dhabi and others, the aim of which is to improve science curricula as well as maths, technology and engineering, that will help Emiratis develop and serve humanity in the future.

The UAE Space Agency Chief Corporate Officer went on to say that the fourth objective will be focused on developing and signing international partnerships within the space sector, in a manner that serves the industry and that provides administrative services with high quality standards and transparency.

She also explained that the space sector has involved innovation and inventions for the past 50 years, and plans to work with national organisations to improve knowledge transfer within the UAE.

In conclusion, Al Maskari said that innovation is not just about creating new things but also about improving existing ideas and products for better service and use. -end-

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