Seeing The Earth from Above



How high-resolution satellite images help us all

The UAE has recently joined the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a voluntary partnership of governments and organisations established in 2005 to promote the open access to Earth Observation (EO) data for the benefit of all humankind.

Observation instruments commonly used to collect such data include ocean buoys, meteorological stations and balloons, seismic and GPS stations, remote satellites, computerized forecasting models and early warning systems.

These instruments are used to measure and monitor specific aspects of the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems. The raw data is be processed, archived, interpreted and then shared and used in areas such as biodiversity & ecosystem sustainability, disaster resilience, energy & mineral resources management, food security & sustainable agriculture as well as infrastructure & transportation management.

As a GEO member, the UAE shares satellite images of the Earth with the group. These satellite images are taken by DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2. DubaiSat-1, launched in 2009, is a remote sensing Earth observation satellite that takes high-resolution optical images that are used for infrastructure development, urban planning, and environment monitoring and protection. Meanwhile DubaiSat-2 launched in 2013 and provides electro-optical images that can be commercialized, as well as develop and implement new technologies not used in DubaiSat-1.

His Excellency Dr Khalifa Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “joining the Group on Earth Observations is in line with our efforts to support the space sector in the United Arabic Emirates, strengthening the UAE’s global presence, establishing international relations according to the country’s strategic goals, and contributing to the overall development of the sector is all areas”.

Barbara J. Ryan, Director, GEO Secretariat commented: “We are delighted to welcome the United Arab Emirates as a Member of GEO. We are very much looking forward to the UAE Space Agency’s participation and the leadership that it will bring to the Middle East.”

“I am delighted that the UAE has joined GEO” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). Both EAD and the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) have been collaborating with GEO through the Eye on Earth movement for a number of years. Since the early nineties EAD has been using satellite images to aid international wildlife conservation efforts.

The UAE joins GEO at an exciting and important time as several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals such as Zero Hunger, Climate Action, Life Below Water and Life on Land rely heavily on data collected by the group.

As an active member of GEO, the UAE hopes to play a constructive and effective role in shaping international policy relating to the open access of EO data. This will maximize the benefits to those who most need such data but may not be in a position to afford it such as people in disaster-stricken areas.

By sharing its satellite images and playing an active part in the GEO, the UAE hopes to do its part in helping other countries. Source: Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre,

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