At a meeting on October 10, 2017, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dr. Ahmad Belhoul al Falasi, UAE’s Minister of State for Higher Education and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, met with Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Etienne Schneider, to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) initiating bilateral cooperation between the two nations on space activities, with particular focus on exploitation of space resources.
The working alliance is indicative of the Grand Duchy’s continued push to lead the European Continent in pursuing space exploration and the privatization of space resources, and of UAE’s recent massive investments in technologies useful to such endeavors. While billed as being the pursuit of “peaceful activities,” given the financial stakes, one should probably instead recognize that Europe and UAE must be motivated by an anticipation of economic profit and technological superiority from space exploration.
It is not frequently reported in the American press, but UAE has been making large investments to transition from a petroleum-based economy to a knowledge-based economy similar to Singapore. These investments have made the technology and military technology sectors of the economies of UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members among the very best in the world at this time. Council members work closely together, and Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to build a fascinating knowledge-based city called NEOM that is planned to be 33 times larger than New York City, and which Mohammed bin Salman envisions as a place “not for conventional people or conventional companies, … [but] for the dreamers for the world.”
The MoU between UAE and Luxembourg is a five-year agreement to cooperate and anticipates the sharing of resources and the exchange of information and expertise in space science and technology, human capital development, and space policy, law and regulation. The MoU emphasizes that it is a natural extension of the collaborative and consensus-building efforts that the countries consider a guiding principle of their efforts.
At the signing, Minister Schneider gave the following remarks on Luxembourg’s behalf:
Luxembourg is promoting actively the peaceful exploration and the sustainable utilization of space resources for the benefit of humankind. In line with those goals, the Grand Duchy encourages discussions on space resources exploration and utilization in all relevant international fora. By signing this MoU with the UAE Space Agency, we continue to endorse cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels in order to progress together with other nations on a future governance scheme and a global regulatory framework for space resources utilization.
Dr. Ahmad bin Abdulla Humaid Belhoul al Falasi, had this to say on UAE’s behalf:
Our collaboration with Luxembourg is aligned with the strategic visions of both the Space Agency and the UAE. This includes working towards closer international cooperation, establishing mutually beneficial international partnerships and exchanging scientific knowledge with the rest of the world. The UAE Space Agency recognizes the importance of international collaboration in the field of peaceful exploration of outer space, as this field is considered to be part of humankind’s common heritage. It is extremely important in our view for all competent entities in this field to work together towards the common goal of enhancing the welfare of humanity.
Savvy readers will expect more news from the Luxembourg and the GCC in the near future about their planned cooperation and initiatives, both with each other and with US-based companies pursuing the privatization of space resources.