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Led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is at the forefront of Arab spaceflight, 11 Arab states have launched a regional space collaboration program to curb their reliance on NASA and expand the limited Arab presence in outer space.

The "Arab Space Cooperation Group (ASCG)" also aims to give the cash-flush but technologically limited Arab world a place in the multi-billion dollar global space industry. In addition, it will work towards the exchange of knowledge and will encourage joint projects that will ultimately boost the Arab space industry.

ASCG includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and Kuwait.

"Today at the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi, we attended the signing of a charter to establish the first Arab body for space cooperation, bringing together 11 Arab states," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

He said ASCG's first project is "a satellite that Arab scientists will work on from here in the UAE." The satellite will be launched in three years' time.

It will be built by engineers and scientists from all 11 countries in the group. The satellite will monitor climate and the environment in the Arab nations and other parts of the globe, according to Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.

Revealing more about the satellite, Dr. Al Ahbabi said it will help environmental agencies, urban planners and monitor the atmosphere for CO2. The involvement of 11 countries "means that we have opened the doors for cooperation and we are serious about it. It's great to bring Arabs together, work together, share knowledge and design the future together. Space is all about cooperation."

Sheikh Mohammed launched ASCG during the inaugural day of the ongoing Global Space Congress, being held in Abu Dhabi until March 21.

"During the opening of the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi, we attended the launch of the first Arab space coordination group that includes 11 countries. The group's first project will be a satellite built by Arab scientists in the UAE. I personally believe in Arab talents," tweeted Sheikh Mohammed.

The satellite will be called "813" and was given this name to highlight an important year in Arab history.

"We called the new satellite "813" in reference to the date that marked the beginning of prosperity for the House of Wisdom in Baghdad under the reign of Al Ma'mun. Resembling our region, the House embraced scientists, translated notable texts and produced scientific capabilities," tweeted Sheikh Mohammed.

This article was first published in IBTimes US. Permission required for reproduction.