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Study Day : MENA Space Capabilities & Security Challenges

The Space domain is increasingly important for security, and Africa & the Middle East are taking note.

Africa, Middle East - Technology & Innovation - Format: PDF - Size: 2.75MB - Date: Feb, 2022 - Pages: 43 - Copyright: NATO Strategic Direction South HUB - Tags: Cyber, Space , MENA

Unlike the space race of the 1960s, space is no longer an area where only a few countries operate. In recent decades, there has been a surge of interests and participants, underlining its importance for security and prosperity on the planet. As in Africa, Middle Eastern countries have steadily accelerated their own space programs, involving similar developmental motives and models as well as considerable differences.

This intricate and highly specific project was aimed at enhancing NATO's understanding of space and security challenges in the region. At the same time, it hopes to shed more light on the developing capabilities of MENA countries in not only the space domain, but also assessing political, military, economic and societal issues.

Study Day on Space Capabilities in the MENA focused on:

  • The general outlook of the existing space capabilities in North Africa and the Middle East - dissecting the national priorities and strategic goals
  • The relevance of space capabilities for economic development (with a distinction between the Middle East and North Africa, if deemed appropriate), including an analysis of educational requirements for the relevant countries
  • The (regional) geo-strategic competition in the space sector, including medium- to long-term projections (5 to 10 years)

Key Insights

  • Space can act as a catalyst for regional cooperation, emphasizing its role in diplomacy to tie, restart, or consolidate relationships between countries.
  • Space Education and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), universities, and public space agency engagements are critical, not only as a social stabilizer for younger generations, but also for countries prioritising the development of professionals and scientists.
  • The evolution and high pace development of the space sector is creating a "New Space" approach, acquiring Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components for technological advancement.
  • Space contributes significantly to socio-economic development as well as risk and disaster mitigation, environmental and climate analyses.
  • The current space environment is ever more competitive and contested, indicating its significance not only for military capabilities but also for new Multi-Domain Operations, while other nations (Russia/China) are creating partner relationships within the MENA region.
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