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The New Arab Staff

Rival powers UAE, Turkey praise each other over space exploration efforts

The Turkish minister congratulated Abu Dhabi's Mars 'Hope' mission [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 February, 2021

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The Twitter exchange marked a rare occurrence of positive communication between the rival countries
The UAE's Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology have congratulated each other for their countries' respective space programmes on Twitter, in a rare sign of positive communication between Abu Dhabi and Ankara.

"Every new exploration in space has the potential to increase international cooperation in the interests of peace in the world," Turkish Minister Mustafa Varank tweeted.

"The UAE's success in the mission of hope, which has lasted for a long time, is commendable. We congratulate you."

In response, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology Sara Amiri thanked her Turkish counterpart in a tweet in the Turkish language.

"Thank you, and we believe that space exploration is a way to build bridges and develop our collective human understanding," she tweeted. 

"We wish you a successful expedition to the moon in 2023, and we believe it will further contribute to space exploration."

The United Arab Emirates' "Hope" probe successfully entered Mars' orbit earlier in February, in the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.

"To the people of the UAE, to the Arab and Muslim nations, we announce the succesful arrival to Mars orbit. Praise be to God," said Omran Sharaf, the mission's project manager.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that Turkey was planning a two-phase mission to the moon.

The mission would firstly involve a domestically manufactured hybrid rocket that would be launched into orbit in 2023 and then crash-land on the moon.

A shuttle will then perform a soft landing on the moon in 2028, in order to pursue scientific research on the Earth’s natural satellite.

"The first rough landing will be made on the moon with our national and authentic hybrid rocket that shall be launched into orbit in the end of 2023 through international cooperation," Erdogan said, detailing the mission.

Middle East Eye recently quoted a Turkish source as saying that Turkey is planning to build a launch site in Somalia. The programme is expected to cost upwards of US$1bn.

Last month, Erdogan spoke with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk to discuss possible space technology cooperation with Turkish companies.

Turkey has established strong ties with Somalia after providing aid to relieve its 2011 famine and has since offered other various humanitarian gestures.

The Turkish source said this makes Somalia a more viable location for the space programme.

The Emirati and Turkish ministers' remarks indicate a thawing of relations between the two countries. Both Abu Dhabi and Ankara had geopolitical differences over Libya, Syria, Egypt, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Horn of Africa.

Former Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash in early January said his country wants to normalise relations with Turkey and that both countries should respect each others' sovereignty.

Gargash, however, called on Ankara to stop what he called its "support to [the] Muslim Brotherhood" and "restore its relations" with the Arab world.

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