World Space Week: Italy and the UAE discuss how space exploration could help find solutions for the Earth's climate change, water management and food security

In partnership with Khalifa University and Dubai Future Foundation, the second online forum hosted by The Embassy of Italy to the UAE took place earlier today during World Space Week

World Space Week: Italy and the UAE discuss how space exploration could help find solutions for the Earth's climate change, water management and food security

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The UAE’s upcoming space missions and Italy’s advancements and innovations in the sector were the subject of a live online forum today, hosted by the Embassy of Italy to the UAE as part of InnovItalyUAE initiative. The session offered insights from a range of speakers including representatives from the Italian and UAE Space Agencies alongside the Ambassador of Italy to the UAE.

InnovItalyUAE focuses on exploring opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation in innovation between Italy and UAE and is held in partnership with the Khalifa University of Science and Technology and the Dubai Future Foundation. Space Exploration and Earth Observation: technologies for present and future challenges, is the second in a series of six, live online forums being held between September and December, discussing a range of prominent topics.

The UAE recently announced it will send the first Arab mission to the moon by 2024, and the ambitious Mars 2117 Mission is already underway. And only last month, the country celebrated the first year anniversary of the historic space mission by Hazza Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first astronaut to complete a space mission.

His Excellency Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE said, “This is the golden age of space exploration and observation and there has been considerable cooperation between Italy and the UAE in recent years. We were joined by some of the brightest minds in the industry from Italy and the UAE today, and the webinar highlighted the opportunities for further collaborations in the industry. Italy has established itself as one of the most important global stakeholders in space science, satellite technologies and development and looking ahead to Expo 2020 Dubai, space will be a focus of the Italian Pavilion.”

During the webinar, which was moderated by Francesco Arneodo, Associate Dean of Science and Professor of Physics, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), His Excellency was joined by:

Giorgio Saccoccia, President, Italian Space Agency, who commented, “We have a long tradition of contributing to robotic missions with partners across the world - science for us has no borders. Over the last two decades, Italy has significantly contributed to the largest international scientific missions, thanks to over 250 Italian companies and 7,000 employees working within the industry. We are looking forward to future collaborations with the UAE, a valued partner.”

Hamad Al Marzooqi, Project Manager of Emirates Lunar Mission, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), spoke of future programs the UAE is undertaking. “The Mars 2117 Mission is part of an ambitious programme by the UAE to have human space flight and settlement on Mars by 2117. We are also looking to progress the UAE’s advancement in robotic technology and to obtain scientific data from future lunar missions.”

The UAE’s ambitions to reach Mars were further highlighted by Hessa Al Matroushi, Deputy Project Manager for Science Section, Emirates Mars Mission. “The Hope Probe was launched earlier this year on 20 July, and has already travelled more than 200 million kms since leaving the Earth 80 days ago. It will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the atmosphere of Mars and its layers when it reaches the red planet's orbit in February 2021. It’s an exciting time for the UAE’s space sector.”

Giuseppe Aridon, Chairman Space Committee, Italian Industries Federation for Aerospace, Defense and Security (AIAD) said, “We have a long-standing heritage and many collaborations with countries across the world. We would like to be a gateway to foster and support the development of technology by the UAE space community across many fields. There is an exciting future ahead.”

Discussing a sustainable approach to space developments, Sean Swei, Director, Khalifa University Space Technology and Innovation Center (KUSTIC), said, “Launched in June 2020, KUSTIC supports the enhancement of space technology in the UAE. We focus on space robotics, next generation space batteries and antenna systems, and look at developing cost-effective systems to provide opportunities for new and lower-cost unmanned rovers for space exploration and observation.”

Focusing on the importance of educating young people in the UAE, Prashanth Marpu, Manager, YahSat Space Lab added, “Since the YahSat Space Lab launched in 2015, we have spent the last four years working on the development of satellite projects hand-in-hand with educational programs. We are aiming to become a centre of excellence working with universities to support their development and activities.”

Luigi Pasquali, CEO, Telespazio, said, “We are currently working on a project to develop an operator that will be able to provide effective communication on the moon. We are looking to increase our global presence further, and collaboration with countries such as the UAE, is one of the main ingredients to enabling this.”

Massimo Claudio Comparini, Deputy CEO, Thales Alenia Space said, “From studying our own Earth, we understand how to have a sustainable planet. We have used this research to build technology to allow astronauts to live in the space and how to survive in new environments. We can learn a huge amount through human and also robotic presence in space. Space missions offer plenty of partnership opportunities and I really believe these are fundamental in advancing our technological capabilities.”

Focusing on the UAE’s advancements, Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General, UAE Space Agency concluded, “We have many different and inspiring projects in the pipeline, including missions to Mars and the Moon that were mentioned today, along with extensive astronaut training programs. The UAE launched a programme to encourage other counties in the region to enter the industry and currently 14 agencies from Arab countries are working together. Space is a great tool to inspire young people and a platform for innovation and diplomacy.”

For more updates, please follow @ItalyInUAE on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or visit: 


The schedule of the remaining free-to-attend InnovItalyUAE forums are as follows:




Smart cities and sustainable mobility


Life sciences


Food technologies


Renewable energy, water, and the circular economy

Embassy of Italy in the UAE

The Embassy of Italy in Abu Dhabi is a foreign mission of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation with the function of Italy’s diplomatic representation in the UAE. For info and contacts: 

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