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Oman’s space policy to aid storm prediction, climate change mitigation

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Promising opportunities: Local Omani startups urged to tap into billion-dollar global climate tech industry

A National Space Policy, currently under formulation by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MoTCIT), will provide strong impetus to, among other things, the growth of downstream space industries in the Sultanate of Oman, according to a high-level official.

Dr Ali al Shidhani (pictured), Communications and Information Technology Under-Secretary, said a future downstream space industry will primarily centre around satellite data analysis to support predictions of adverse weather and aid climate change mitigation efforts.

“We are working on a national space policy that will most likely focus on the downstream industry of space, which means the utilisation of satellite data to predict extreme weather conditions, and to analyse and mitigate climate issues as well,” he stated.

Speaking at the Oman Sustainability Week 2022, which concluded in Muscat last week, the official referenced the country’s nascent space programme as an example of ongoing efforts to harness modern technology to drive national development and innovation.

In recent months, the Omani government has firmed up plans to develop a space programme aimed initially at the delivery of a nanosatellite into low Earth orbit, followed by a deep space exploration mission.

To this end, the government – represented by the MoTCIT – is collaborating with a number of key international players to support the design, manufacture and launch of a first-ever Omani CubeSat satellite aboard a Virgin Orbit rocket. Partnering in this historic initiative are Omani technology firm ETCO, international digital technology specialist Tuatara, and Polish nanosatellite manufacturer and operator SatRevolution, besides Virgin Orbit.

Dr Al Shidhani also urged Omani entrepreneurs and start-ups to tap into the lucrative global climate tech sector, given especially its promising potential for the Sultanate of Oman. The flurry of destruction cyclones witnessed in the country in last several years underscores the need for climate tech services to help “predict, manage and mitigate calamities”, he noted.

Citing a recent report by well-known global advisory services firm PwC, the Under-Secretary pointed out that climate tech investments had totalled around $220 billion over the past decade alone.

“In the period between the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, climate tech investment amounted to $56 billion in the US alone, $18 billion in Europe and $9 billion in China. There are around 3,000-plus active start-ups in the climate tech space globally, with more than 6,000 investors. Of every venture capital dollar invested, 14 cents are invested in climate technology, which already has 78 unicorns in. So it’s a growing business.”

The Sultanate of Oman is also making tentative forays into the climate tech industry, he said. “In Oman, we are just seeing its start; It’s a cross-sector domain that requires lot of collaboration, understanding of the environment and technology, and we think that Oman has to capture some of that value.”

One local startup that has already done the Sultanate of Oman proud in the climate tech space is 44.01, a carbon removal firm that is currently doing “mindboggling” work in carbon capture and related fields, he added.

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