【GITEX GLOBAL 2022】Participated in an Event in the UAE, the World’s “Brain Hub”. What is the Affinity Between the Geopolitics of the Middle East and Optical Communications?
“Get bold. RISE UP TO THE PHENOMENON”
“Get bold. The place you rise up to is the eye of the typhoon.” GITEX GLOBAL 2022, the world’s largest and most comprehensive tech and startup event focused on the Middle East, took place October 16–20 in Dubai, UAE.
GITEX GLOBAL aims to advance business, economy, society, and culture through innovation and is a showcase of cutting-edge technologies that could revolutionize human life, not just space exploration.
Each of the seven countries in the UAE had its own booth, and there were discussions on how cutting-edge technology can be used in government and politics.
At the same time, business negotiations were actively conducted to discuss collaboration opportunities between businesses and matchmaking between investors and startups. The event was a truly technological festival, with stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds coming and going in all directions.
The number of participants exceeded 100,000, and the transportation system in the center of Dubai was jammed.
At GITEX GLOBAL 2022, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) held a Japan booth to promote startups in Japan, and WARPSPACE’s CMO, Takahashi participated in the event.
From the GITEX GLOBAL 2022 website. Over 5,000 booth exhibitors, 1,400 speakers, and more than 1,000 startup companies attended. In all, over 100,000 people from more than 180 countries attended.
A Milestone toward Investment and Collaboration in the UAE.
One of the purposes of his visit to the UAE was to get a better understanding of the overseas investment environment. WARPSPACE has been raising funds in Japan until now, but we are now at the stage of considering investment from overseas, so it was necessary to make contact with overseas investors, including those in the Middle East, at GITEX.
Another purpose was to visit the office of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in the suburbs of Dubai to discuss the possibility of future collaboration with various space development projects being promoted by the UAE. The MBRSC, the UAE’s space agency, is also developing the Rashid 1 lunar rover, which is scheduled to be launched with HAKUTO-R, the first private lunar exploration program, in late November, and the Mars rover HOPE, which was launched by the H2-B rocket in 2020.
On the other hand, it is a very dynamic organization that is planning to build an Earth observation system by 2024 using a constellation of satellites equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).
Furthermore, the UAE itself has shown a positive attitude toward new initiatives from an international perspective, such as the enactment of a space law that stipulates the handling of space debris and space resources. With this background, his mission in the UAE was to propose optical communications, an innovative space infrastructure that is currently the focus of much attention, to a space development project in the UAE, which has a striking presence in the field of international space exploration in terms of both law and technology.
The response to his proposal from MBRSC officials was “better than expected.” The MBRSC had been considering the use of optical communications, and they showed great interest in our optical communications network. He also participated in a reception with the UAE Minister of Economy and the Minister of AI. A reception, the UAE Minister of AI said, “Our country is young and inexperienced, so we would like to learn advanced technologies from other countries.”
This comment gives him a glimpse of one of the reasons why the UAE has successfully managed its economy and is increasing its presence in the complicated international situation.
What is the UAE’s National Development Strategy?
To begin with, what is the UAE’s strategy for nation-building? The UAE is a relatively small country, sandwiched between the major powers of Iran to the east and Saudi Arabia to the west. Money is essential to protect one’s country in such a geographical environment.
Fortunately, the UAE is rich in oil and has succeeded in amassing enormous wealth through trade, taking advantage of its location on an important sea lane where oil and other commodities are transported. However, the Emir of Dubai, who thought that “oil will eventually run out,” has been trying to shift to a new economic system as early as 20 years ago. Like Singapore, a small Asian country that has succeeded in amassing enormous wealth, the UAE will become a financial hub that manages funds obtained through trade, and will use the funds collected to gather cutting-edge technologies, facilities, and institutions to turn the UAE into a “brain hub”.
The technologies gathered in this way will be networked, and new innovations will be created in the UAE, which will then be marketed abroad. GITEX GLOBAL, a technology festival, is the focal point of this chain of events.
Looking at the UAE’s national budget shown in the graph below, it appears that while a large amount of money is allocated to the promotion of science and technology (education), not much is allocated to national defense. In regard to this, Takahashi noted “As long as the UAE has brains and technological seeds, they should be able to negotiate with Europe, the U.S., China, or any other country, even if they do not publicly address security issues. In fact, GITEX is frequented by security officials from all over the world, and the UAE seems to be a technology merchant. According to some sources, their country itself has a history of being pushed around by the Soviet Union and other major powers in the past, so while ostensibly being friendly, the UAE may want to hold the reins by owning the core technology.”
GITEX GLOBAL seemed to reveal the UAE’s nation-building strategy.
Meeting the Geopolitical Demands of the Middle East with Optical Communications.
On the other hand, he said that many of the people he talked to at the WARPSPACE booth were not familiar with space technology, although some were involved in space-related technology, such as officials from government agencies and telecommunications companies, in addition to investors.
Therefore, in addition to the optical communication itself, he also talked about the fundamentals of Earth observation data and how to use it. Regarding Earth observation data, various possibilities of application unique to Middle Eastern countries were discussed, such as the possibility of efficient border security in desert areas and preventing flooding in deserts where there is no soil to absorb water.
On the other hand, regarding optical communications, he said “I received a lot of interest in the value of this technology, product, and application that can upgrade the quality and quantity of data, especially for security and disaster relief.”
He does not hide his positive response.
In addition, there were also proposals for collaboration with advanced technologies, such as the use of optical communication technology in drones and the possibility of installing optical communication terminals in flying cars, which is exactly the chain of technological innovation that this event has been aiming for.
A scene from a panel in which he participated at GITEX GLOBAL 2022. He discussed how Japanese space startups can contribute to the Middle East and what they expect from the Middle East.
He also said the high level of interest in cyber security in the UAE was very impressive. He considered that geopolitical reasons are also a major factor in this. In Japan, cyber-attacks are still not widely recognized as a familiar threat, but today, in addition to the situation in Ukraine, cyber-attacks are occurring around the world, even at a level that affects ordinary people due to major powers.
In addition, in the Middle East, where the situation is complicated as mentioned above, each country is extremely worried about the risk of leakage of national secrets, such as information on their own economy. Therefore, optical communication, which has a high level of security that radio wave communication does not have, seems to be very attractive to them.
Therefore, at GITEX GLOBAL 2022, we were able to recognize once again the importance of marketing a high level of security as the future development of WARPSPACE.
The UAE, the Eye of the Typhoon
Twenty percent of the UAE’s population is from the Emirate, while the remaining 80% is made up of migrant workers from other countries. Perhaps because of this large number of immigrants, Lebanese, Persian, and Indian cuisine are considered a feast in the UAE. Particularly in Lebanese, where France was the former sovereign, Middle Eastern spices and herbs are added to the cuisine, which has a unique origin reminiscent of the Hellenistic culture of the past. Even one of these dishes has a story that traces the history of the country, and it makes one wonder why GITEX GLOBAL, which gathers technologies from around the world to create new technologies, is centered here in the UAE.
The UAE Minister of Economy and Minister of AI whom Takahashiexchanged views this time were all in their 30s. Being able to drive a wedge into the eye of the young typhoon that is rising in such land should serve as a major foundation for WARPSPACE’s overseas expansion in the future.