The UAE will chair the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
The 100-member state committee is one of the largest UN committees. It was established by the UN General Assembly in 1959 to govern the exploration and use of space.
It was tasked with reviewing international cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, studying space-related activities, encouraging space research programs and studying and recommending policy and the legal infrastructure supporting space exploration.
Omran Sharaf, who will now chair COPUOS for a period of two years (2022-2023), serves as the project director of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, UAE.
Sharaf was the first Emirati engineer to travel to Korea in the country’s technology transfer program, which saw him working on the development of the DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2 remote sensing satellites.
During his time in Korea, Sharaf gained his Master's degree in Science and Technology Policy from the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea, in 2013.
Sharaf said the space sector in the UAE is witnessing successive achievements.
He pointed out that it is a qualified sector, thanks to the future vision that prioritizes the development process, in light of the mass capacities and scientific expertise the UAE has in this field.
The UAE said winning the presidency is of great importance to it, stressing that this phase requires setting space policies.
World countries compete to launch dozens of satellites, thus the committee's role will be pivotal in building policies to ensure the sustainability of space and encourage adopting a regulatory framework calling for acting responsibly.
UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said electing Omran to chair the committee is a new achievement for the state and reflects the world’s appreciation for its programs and contributions in the field of space.
“We wish Omran every success in leading this committee and implementing its goals and projects.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, expressed his pride in the UAE and Omran, noting that the country’s youths have reached space, they lead global issues and run international institutions.
During its presidency of the intergovernmental organization, the UAE seeks to bolster the efforts of space and science diplomacy at the global level, promote fair and peaceful access to space for all world countries, and compliance with international legal frameworks and UN treaties governing the safety and sustainability of outer space among the member states.
It further aims to support and encourage knowledge transfer programs among member states as a way to accomplish tasks more efficiently and a tool to develop the global space economy and promote the exchange and development of new and innovative practices of the committee’s work system, in line with international law.
Sarah al-Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chairwomen of the UAE Space Agency, said, “It’s a great honor for the Emirates to take the chair of COPUOS, particularly as we founded our space program on international partnerships and collaboration and continue to place these partnerships at the core of our space sector development.”