As several Middle Eastern countries begin to focus on their space programs, Bahrain is also joining the race by launching its first 100 percent locally-built satellite by the end of 2023 according to Arab News. A group of Bahraini youth who are qualified in the field of space science will aid in the creation of the satellite, according to Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, director of the government’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sports. According to SatelliteProMe, this project is a part of the National Space Science Agency’s new plan, which starts with the launch of the first Bahraini satellite and ends in 2028.
Sheikh Nasser expressed appreciation for the National Space Science Agency (NSSA) and noted that this project will portray Bahraini youth’s excellence in various fields, and reflects their national spirit, determination, and resolve to achieve everything that would enhance Bahrain’s status according to Arab News.
However, Light-1, a collaborative UAE-Bahraini nano-satellite, was launched to the International Space Station back in 2021, so this is not Bahrain’s first effort. This nano-satellite’s function was to monitor and study terrestrial gamma-ray flashes from thunderstorms and clouds as claimed by Forbes. Additionally, those two projects now place Bahrain as the fifth Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country to place a satellite into space according to Arab News.
According to The New Arab, the UAE has likely made the biggest advancement in strengthening its space capabilities within the shortest amount of time. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are also participating in this space competition. But what’s driving those countries’ interest in space? Economic diversification is a major factor, as many countries in the Middle East are trying to diversify their economies rather than relying exclusively on the oil and gas sectors.