ABU DHABI // The United Nations and the US Department of State are holding workshops for UAE experts, hoping the Emirates will spearhead the creation of a regional satellite navigation system on par with others in the world.
The 36 workshops will take place over four days this week at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai. The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology sponsored the workshops.
The workshops will cover a wide range of applications for the technology, including aviation, marine, transit, space, agriculture, disaster planning and natural resource exploration.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has organised similar workshops and international meetings since 2001.
The agency is seeking to build a dense network from the existing global navigation systems. This is the first time the workshops have taken place in the Middle East.
“The UAE could take the lead in incorporating existing systems in various applications and research, and creating mapping systems or reference systems that are suitable for this region,” said Sharafat Gadimova, programme officer for the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.
“So far, the Middle East is the only region in which a global navigation satellite system is not being built.”
The world’s most notable navigational satellite systems in use or in development are the United States’ Global Positioning System; Europe’s Galileo; China’s Compass and BeiDou navigation systems; Russia’s Global Navigational Satellite System; Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System and the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System.
The workshops will especially focus on strong solar storms that can disable or scramble satellites, as well as gaps in monitoring stations to track local magnetism, ground currents and ionization, Ms Gadimova said.
The UAE has already invested in space technology, launching the DubaiSat1 in 2009 to collect pictures and information on the Gulf region. Officials said they would help the UAE develop other national or regional pilot projects incorporating or expanding use of satellite navigation.
“We have many proposals and ideas for the future, and this is a good platform for discussing those ideas and getting recommendations for those projects and for regional cooperation,” said Ahmed al Mansoori, the director general of the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology.
Jeffrey Auerbach, adviser on satellite navigation system affairs for the US Department of State, said the workshops are also important for encouraging collaboration for specific projects using GPS..
Officials said they hoped to link UAE data with catalogues of the Earth’s measurements, such as the Reference Frame Sub-Commission for Europe, European Position Determination System, Asia Pacific Reference Frame, the African Geodetic Frame and the Geocentric Reference System for the Americas.