UAE becomes official member of International Charter on Space and Major Disasters

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency, UAE Space Agency, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, NCEMA, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, have jointly announced that the UAE, represented by the three parties, has become an official member of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.

The UAE is the first Arab-Islamic country to obtain membership to the organisation, which requires members to possess advanced space-based Earth observation capabilities.

Under the Charter, Member States pledge to share the imagery obtained from their respective satellites orbiting Earth to provide other members with high-quality images at frequent intervals to contribute to the management of natural or man-made disasters.

The Charter also provides its members with high-quality training opportunities led by international specialists and experts.
Members are also encouraged to exchange relevant data, research and expertise with each other.

More than 22 of the most prominent space agencies and international institutions specialising in Earth observation are currently members of the Charter. The process by which membership is attained includes a number of field visits by international experts to observe the applicant’s qualifications and provide training on the mechanisms of co-operation between member organisations.

The UAE Space Agency will represent the country at meetings of the Charter’s Board of Directors in order to participate in the development of plans and policies. The NCEMA will be the UAE’s point of contact for satellite imagery requests during the occurrence or expectation of a crisis or a disaster in the UAE or the wider region. Meanwhile, the MBRSC will be in charge of providing and receiving information, data and satellite images through its satellites and ground stations.

Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, said, "Obtaining membership of the Charter is a testament to the advanced state of the UAE’s space and Earth observation capabilities. The UAE’s willingness and ability to assist other members in the event of a crisis or disaster has been, once again, recognised by the international space community. The UAE intends to contribute to the Charter through the sharing of images and data collected by our DubaiSat-2, which will be joined shortly by the entirely UAE-built KhalifaSat."

Dr. Jamal Al Hosani, Director-General of NCEMA, said, "The membership supports the presence and status of the UAE in the space sector on an international level. It also facilitates an effective response and rapid recovery from crises and disasters by harnessing satellite images provided by other members. The membership will also enable other stakeholders in the UAE to gain access to the best disaster management practices in the fields of space technology and Earth observation. The NCEMA is working with the UAE Space Agency and the MBRSC to develop integrated training programmes to qualify national cadres and benefit from the provided satellite images."

Nasser Al Rashidi, Director of Space Policy and Legislation at the UAE Space Agency, said, "The UAE has sought to become a member to reaffirm its commitment to co-operating in the field of space with other countries. The UAE’s membership is in line with the nation’s strategic objectives for the space sector, which includes the development and strengthening of international partnerships and collaboration."

"These partnerships will, in turn, contribute to the development of our national capabilities and competencies and strengthen the nation’s status internationally. Recent advancements in satellite technology have sparked global interest in observing our planet. As a regional and global leader in satellite technology, the UAE is well positioned to lead international efforts to respond to disasters and better understand our planet," Al Rashidi added.

Hamad Al Ameri, ‎ICT Director at the NCEMA said, "We will work with the UAE Space Agency and the MBRSC to develop a national capacity building programme, which will aim to train and qualifying national cadres to analyse and work with satellite imagery in a manner that supports decision makers during emergencies, crises and disasters."

The Charter formally entered into force on 1st November, 2000. It aims to provide a unified system to obtain and submit space data to countries affected by a natural or man-made disaster through a certified and authorised entity. The Member States are committed to providing resources that support the Charter’s provisions and to contribute, through satellite imagery, in alleviating the impact of a disaster on human lives and property.

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