The Middle East is leaning heavily toward technology and taking an optimistic look at the future. Not only are countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia investing and developing artificial intelligence, but they’re also looking up at the stars with hopes of space travel in the future, and now Oman is joining them in that dream.
The Sultanate of Oman announced that they secured a piece of land within its Artificial Intelligence Zone in the Duqm district spanning 20,000 square meters, on which the country will construct a new space research facility.
The Purpose Behind The Facility
This new facility will essentially be a space settlement on Earth, where astronauts can conduct research as well as scientific and practical experiments. This center will simulate space conditions that future astronauts will go through in their upcoming missions, making it the perfect training ground in a controlled setting to avoid any issues in actual space.
Eng. Bahiya bint Hilal bin Sultan Al-Shuaibi, Founder and CEO of Global Space and Technology Company, explained that this center serves researchers and scientists in other fields besides astronauts as well, such as those working on developing AI and advanced technology.
“Global Space and Technology Company will develop this center to serve space and modern technology projects for commercial and research purposes by providing several services, such as satellites for communications, remote sensing, and space imaging. In addition, the project aims to establish training programs to transfer knowledge in cooperation with specialized international institutions. Therefore, the Company designs different programs related to virtual reality, 3D programs for educational purposes and simulation, in line with the needs of educational institutions and providing them with the appropriate relevant devices,” said Eng. Bahiya bint Hilal bin Sultan Al Shuaibi, Founder and CEO of Global Space and Technology Company.
Unfortunately, the announcement didn’t come with a timeline or the funds allocated to pay for such a project, so we’ll have to wait and see when this project comes to life.
This isn’t the first time we see a project like this in the region, as the UAE announced something similar back in 2017 with the announcement of the “2117 Mars” project.
The “2117 Mars” project’s main goal is fairly simple, the creation of the “first stable human settlement on the Red Planet within a time frame of 100 years,” and part of that project is the construction of a space research center on Earth. However, the land acquisition outside of Dubai, where the center will be situated, has seen troubles causing delays to the project overall.
At this time, the main training and simulation facilities to prepare future astronauts before their missions are in the USA and Russia.
The most recent example of needing to travel to these facilities would be Emirati Mechanical Engineer Saleh Al Ameri, who spent eight months in a Russian facility with an international crew of five, where they conducted an analog mission ending in the Summer of 2022. If there were other established facilities in the MENA region, he wouldn’t have needed to go there.
This is a good step for the space industry within the region, as more countries from the MENA area take part in the field, they increase their chances of offering experienced individuals who are ready for space and can be integral parts of future missions.
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