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UAE Earmarks $820 Million to Build Satellites, Fund Space Plan

(Bloomberg) --

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The United Arab Emirates will set up a 3 billion dirham ($820 million) fund to develop satellites, as well as bolster an ambitious space program that’s already put a probe into Martian orbit and includes plans to explore Venus.

The six-year development program will see the first satellite launch in three years, state-run WAM news agency reported. The fund will encourage global partnerships to establish themselves in the country, and provide incentives as part of the UAE Space Agency’s Space Economic Zones Programme.

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“The project will contribute to the UAE’s efforts to develop solutions to climate change, environmental sustainability and improved disaster management,” the country’s media office said. Applications will include detection of oil spills, monitoring ships, as well as search and rescue.

The Gulf nation said the move will make it the first Arab country to develop a constellation of Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellites. The satellites -- called Sirb after the Arabic term for a flock of birds -- will be built through partnerships between the public and private sector together with international firms, WAM said.

With plans to explore Venus within seven years and land on an asteroid, in addition to launching a spacecraft into Martian orbit, the UAE already has the Middle East’s most ambitious space program.

The country established a Space Agency in 2014, sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station five years later, and plans to send an unmanned spaceship to the moon in 2024.

(Updates with details from 2nd paragraph)

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