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  HE GCCSG: Bahrain’s hosting of the ISF - GCC Chapter 2024 Comes Amid Rapid Development and Increasing Interest in the Space Sector in the GCC, & as this Field is Witnessing Rapid Growth in Innovation and Development of Space Services and Applications

General Secretariat – Manama
His Excellency Mr Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said that the Kingdom of Bahrain’s hosting of the International Space Forum - GCC Chapter 2024 (ISF 2024) comes amid rapid development and increasing interest in the space sector in the GCC countries, and as this field is witnessing rapid growth in innovation and development of space services and applications.

This came during HE the Secretary General’s participation in the sixth edition of the ISF, which is being held for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the ministerial level, under the theme “Space as a Game-Changer in Diplomacy and Economic Development in the Region”, hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain on July 2, 2024, in the Bahraini capital, Manama. The event features participation from a number of ministers and high-level officials from government bodies and agencies specialising in space policies and activities, as well as representatives from higher education institutions from countries in the region and around the world. It is being organised by the National Space Science Authority (NSSA) of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Italian Space Agency (ISA) and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF).

At the beginning of his speech, HE the Secretary General extended his sincere thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Bahrain and its wise leadership for hosting the ISF - GCC Chapter 2024, and to the NSSA in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the ISA and the IAF for their outstanding organisation of this forum.

His Excellency also stated that space exploration has received significant attention from countries and commercial institutions, as global investments in space exploration have reached approximately USD 272 billion since 2013. He noted that the GCC countries have worked for decades to enhance their capabilities in this field, and have established national space agencies and bodies, in addition to launching initiatives that include specialised academic and training programmes, and encouraging innovation and scientific research, mentioning that the value of the space economy in the GCC countries is estimated to be more than USD 10 billion, spread across various sectors.

Moreover, HE the Secretary General said that the GCC countries aim to increase investment in the space sector and attract global expertise and leadership to achieve their ambitious national plans. He recalled some of the milestones achieved by the GCC countries, including the United Arab Emirates' launch of the Hope Probe in 2020 in partnership with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and several international bodies, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s launch of a project to study and reduce carbon emissions in cooperation with the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s completion of the mission of sending two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) to conduct scientific experiments in cooperation with NASA, and the Sultanate of Oman’s launch of a scientific launch platform project into space, as well as the State of Qatar’s signing of a project with NASA to design and launch a climate research satellite, and the State of Kuwait’s participation with NASA's SMAP satellite project team.

His Excellency also expressed pride and appreciation during his speech for the achievements of the astronauts in the GCC countries, including Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi from the United Arab Emirates, who made great contributions through their missions to the ISS. He also praised Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their recent mission to the ISS, which demonstrated the region’s commitment to space exploration and scientific research. His Excellency also recalled the distinguished achievement of the first astronaut from the GCC countries, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, whose historic flight in 1985 remains an inspiration for current and upcoming Gulf generations.

HE the Secretary General concluded his speech by emphasising the importance of seizing the opportunities available in light of the rapid changes taking place in the space sector, by exchanging experiences, unifying visions and policies, and overcoming challenges, to turn them into opportunities that benefit the GCC countries, their peoples, and future generations.