ABU DHABI - Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of global satellite company ICEYE, has affirmed the company's continued commitment to expanding its investments in the UAE as part of its plans to grow in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

In statements to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) during the AIM Congress that concluded its activities in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Modrzewski said that the company plays a vital role in the emerging space economy after its participation in the Middle East gained significant momentum in 2022 following the opening of its office in the UAE.

He explained that ICEYE is partnering with Bayanat, a leading provider of geospatial solutions, to build national capabilities for remote sensing and Earth observation from satellites within the UAE to meet business opportunities in the local and global markets. The programme is being implemented in cooperation with Yahsat.

Modrzewski noted that the new space economy provides a path towards diversification away from oil and gas, pointing out that the UAE has established a national fund for investment and development in the space sector worth AED 3 billion. This fund will support new pioneering programmes launched to support international and Emirati companies cooperating in the fields of engineering, science and applications, in addition to establishing the National Space Agency tasked with encouraging the growth of the sector through partnerships, academic programmes, investments in research and development, commercial initiatives, and leading space science research.

Modrzewski highlighted the company's flexibility in working with governments and institutions in the Middle East according to their specific needs, noting that the project with Bayanat and Yahsat is a good example of this. He explained that it represents a step towards a wider space system in the UAE, which will include the development of satellite manufacturing capabilities within the country, in addition to a range of strategic benefits, including strengthening data privacy and enhancing space exploration capabilities.

Modrzewski said that the company's project with Bayanat is the largest to date in the Middle East, and was initially designed as a constellation of five satellites, later growing to a constellation of seven satellites. This means that the satellites in orbit will regularly orbit the Middle East, and both Bayanat and Yahsat will be able to provide near-real-time high-resolution images of conditions on the ground across the region, improving the quality of geospatial information they can offer to their customers.

He noted that the company raised $136 million in 2022 in a funding round, bringing the total amount raised to $304 million since its inception. This money is being invested in enabling public and private sector institutions in the Middle East and beyond to achieve their ambitions in the field of artificial intelligence and expand their capabilities.