The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is understood to be in separate talks with Kazakhstan regarding space cooperation, and South Korea regarding economic cooperation in satellite manufacturing and applications, according to Saudi and regional press reports.
Discussions in separate meetings were held in Saudi Arabia during December 2019, and signal another public push by Riyadh to add momentum to its space programme and bolster ongoing economic and social reforms in the Kingdom.
On 23 December 2019, the Kazakh ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Berik Aryn, met with the Chairman of the Saudi Space Commission, Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud – famous for being the first Arab (and Muslim) astronaut in the 1980’s. The two officials discussed prospects for space cooperation between the two countries and pledged to carry on talks with the aim of implementing cooperative initiatives in a number of mutually beneficial space projects.
Separately, on 18 December 2019, the Saudi-South Korean Joint Committee met in Riyadh under the joint chairmanship of the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammed bin Mazid Al-Tuwaijri, and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. Cooperation on satellite manufacturing, services, and applications was discussed during the committee meeting, one of 21 economic cooperation initiatives deliberated on by the officials from both countries.
South Korean satellite company Satrec Initiative has been a champion of Korean satellite exports over the years in the Middle East – specially with the United Arab Emirates – and beyond, and it is well-known that Saudi Arabia has a long-standing requirement for high-resolution Earth observation satellites for civil and military purposes.
For its part, Saudi Arabia has been quietly building its satellite manufacturing base, mostly under the auspices of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), and is actively cooperating in the space sphere with the United States, Russia, and China, among others.
As previously reported by SpaceWatch.Global, the Saudi Space Commission is reportedly expecting to submit its proposed national space strategy, and other space policy and legal initiatives, to the Saudi King for his approval sometime soon.