Thomas Mackie03 Feb 2019 AT 10:17 AM

UAE bans meteorite mining and owning rockets

Breaking the space laws could lead to a AED10 million fine
Thomas Mackie03 Feb 2019 AT 10:17 AM
UAE bans meteorite mining and owning rockets

The UAE is well on its way when it comes to the space race – and now new laws have been introduced to protect the growing industry.

Under the new legislation, which is set to come into action very soon, it will be illegal to mine meteorites or own technology such as satellites and rockets.

No-one will be allowed to launch any objects that reach 100km above sea level without the approval of the UAE Space Agency either – and anyone who breaks the law will be fined up to Dhs 10million.

The Federal National Council, which is discussing the drafted laws, wants to protect the UAE's position in the space industry.

Afra Rashid Al Basti, an FNC member who has developed the draft law, said: "This draft law describes the ownership of space objects, working in space-related activities, being a part of it or using locations in the UAE for space-related activities without having a permit from the UAE Space Agency.

"It's protection for the country. Each country has the right to protect itself and the activities in their area."

The Dubai Astronomy Centre said a lot of people have been coming to the UAE to try to sell meteorites, and some buyers have been "conned" by those who are trying to make a profit.

The centre's chief executive Hasan Al Hariri told Khaleej Times: "This will help because how are people supposed to know if this space rock is legitimate? Some people have been conned of hundreds of thousands of dirhams. Even if they bring a certificate from abroad, how do we know we it's genuine?

"Currently, there is no one in the UAE who certifies the legitimacy of meteorites. So, banning it is saving people from getting conned. We have meteorites in our country. Poachers can come down, pick it up and leave - this is not allowed, it's a national treasure."