Here’s why the Dubai Air Show is such a red hot topic

November 14, 2017 6:41 pm

The Dubai Air Show 2017 opened its doors on Sunday, November 12, with a bunch of deals valued at more than $15 billion.

Emirates Airline signed a $15.1bn with Boeing to purchase 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners on the first day of the exhibition.

Meanwhile, flydubai unveiled its brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8, the first of 76 ordered from Boeing, all of which will be delivered by 2023.

The biggest of these deals didn’t even come close to a project that will catapult the UAE into new orbits. What beats them all?

Read: Gulf space race: UAE and now KSA set sights high

Read: 7 strange things you likely don’t know about Elon Musk

Space odyssey

The Emirates Mars Mission, otherwise known as “Hope” is slated to land on Mars, the boiling hot Red Planet, in 2021. That discussion took part at this year’s air show, which launched the first Space Pavilion, supported by the UAE Space Agency, The Boeing Company and Orbital ATK.

The great focus on space technology at the show stems from the importance of this industry, which is said to be worth $300bn, growing at eight per cent annually, according to a statement issued by the Air Show.

“The UAE’s investment in space technology currently exceeds $5.4bn,” it said.

Read: Space tourism revolution: breaking the final frontier

The Dubai Air Show also witnessed the opening of the first Space Pavilion conference, welcoming the global sector to join senior representatives of the UAE Space Agency, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Yahsat, Boeing, The GCAA, FAA and ICAO.

The conference panel on the Emirates Mars Mission had Mohamed Al Junaibi, Executive Director of the UAE Space Agency commenting: “It’s been an exciting journey, and we are developing the space programme as an inspiration to the UAE youth. We invite all of the UAE youth to join us in taking up this great challenge.”

 Are you a space cadet?

Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman, UAE Space Agency, emphasized the importance of encouraging youth to study math and science, if they want to be part of the space program.

Omran Sharaf, Project Manager for the Emirates Mars Mission, MBRSC, said: “The programme is about exploration and generating new information about Mars, but it is also a driver for change, and a tool for education.”

The UAE is not the only country planning to go to space.

Competition for space travel

On October 26, 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced a $1bn investment in British billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. Sir Richard plans a space mission as early as 2018.

John B. Sheldon, Chairman and President of the THOR Group, a full service merger and acquisition advisory firm, said in a recent report that one way to help ensure success towards Saudi Vision 2030 was for the Kingdom to harness the technologies and potential of space systems.

But this is not Saudi’s first foray into space activity.

In June 2015, Saudi King Salman led his country’s space program and signed an agreement to partner with Russia in the latter’s efforts to build another International Space Station by 2023.

“Saudi Arabia and Russia have reached an agreement for collaboration between their space programs for peaceful exploration,” said a media statement, following a Saudi Cabinet decision on the same.


Dana Halawi
By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.