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Saudi Arabia's Ambitious Plans for Sustainable Space Sector Development: An Expert's View

Phil Malem, CEO of Serco Middle East, predicts Saudi Arabia's space sector investment budget could rival major economies and lead the Middle East in creating a competitive and regulatory environment.

Saudi Arabia is set to lead the Middle East in sustainable space sector development as the country prepares to launch its space strategy. Investment in the industry is expected to be significant, with estimates suggesting it could be comparable to major space economies. Phil Malem, CEO of Serco Middle East, has predicted that the global space industry is currently worth over $400 billion and could grow to more than $1 trillion by 2040. The Saudi leadership is expected to create a competitive and regulatory environment with an innovative approach that supports the growth of the regional ecosystem.

Malem has also forecasted that Saudi Arabia will experience exponential growth in the space sector as part of its economic diversification plans in the region. The country’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has highlighted the potential for the sector to impact all economic sectors through services enabled by space data.

Efforts have been made to enhance the Kingdom’s strategy, with significant accomplishments made in human spaceflight missions. Plans are underway to launch Saudi astronauts this year. Riyadh has also been taking significant steps towards the sector by filling positions with qualified professionals from the global space industry over the past year.

Serco’s action plan involves collaborating with local academic, industrial, and public sector organizations to design, develop, and provide training, with the aim of preparing Saudi citizens with the abilities, knowledge, and experience required to tackle long-term growth challenges in the regional space sector.

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The Saudi Space Accelerator Program, introduced by the Saudi Space Commission in 2023, will aid startups and entrepreneurs in developing innovative space solutions within the Kingdom while simplifying knowledge transfer, technology, and training. Strengthening top training programs for operational services through various global space services for professionals in multiple locations, agencies, and public space institutions, such as engineers, operators, and analysts, is also necessary to enhance the entire space value chain from satellite design and spacecraft operations to data processing and management.

Overall, Malem expected that both public and private investments would back the formation of international partnerships in the region and create a local ecosystem. The sector aims to position the Kingdom as a leading country in the field of space, presenting significant opportunities for building a skilled and confident local workforce capable of implementing the space program and supporting the revitalization of national visions.

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