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Space Tourism from UAE 154

RAK writes "The only company to have sent tourists into space, Space Adventures, has announced plans to develop a commercial spaceport in the UAE, from where it will operate suborbital flights. The project will cost $265 million. The Russian-built suborbital vehicle called Explorer will have the capacity to transport up to five people to an altitude of nearly 100km in space, but the project's schedule is yet to be announced."
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Space Tourism from UAE

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  • FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by wilburdg ( 178573 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:32PM (#14752904)
    For those of you slightly lacking in geography, UAE stands for the United Arab Emirates, [] a country located on the Arabian Peninsula just east of Saudi Arabia.
    • Re:FYI (Score:3, Informative)

      by DeadPrez ( 129998 )
      And just so happens to be the only country to use more energy and cause more environmental damage per capita than the good ole US of A.
      • Re:FYI (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        ecological footprint []

      • And the only country in the world to have a six star hotel. ....
      • Re:FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:35AM (#14753238)
        Simple reason:
        The official census and thus captia does not include non-nationals (temporary workers), while the US includes not only temporary workers but also illegal immigrants (not that the census checks a persons visa). The nationals make us a mere 12% of the population and temporary workers make up the rest, illegal immigration, while it exists, is delt with via mass deportations. Nationally cannot be conferred by any process other than birth to a national father. E.G. I was born there but will never be a national.

        This keeps their percapita income and other such stats artifically high. They have a penchant for being number 1. Note the 6 star hotel, the world future tallest building, the biggest construction on artifical islands, I think the worlds biggest wedding cake (I had some, it was nice), and a ton of other record attempts.

        With 8 1/3 times the reported population contributing to national production and energy use it's not hard to be the highest percapita user (desalination and aluminum refining are a combined effort and it's very very energy intensive, hence everone using water is using energy (the cold water flows quite hot due to the ambient temprature, midday, you might burn yourself showering)) considering these differences in calculating the stats I heartily conferr back status of most wasteful nation to the U.S. As a side note, #3 Kuwait, might do just about the same thing as the UAE, They're analagous nations right down to the flag.

        • Re:FYI (Score:2, Interesting)

          by bonglord ( 878656 )
          I remember when I lived there a while ago we used to use the cold water tank for hot water, and the hot water tank for cold water. The cold tank was in the back garden and would get super hot during the summer, the hot tank was inside with the air conditioning. Happy Days.
      • Actually, many of the smaller oil producing countries are exactly as you describe.
      • Re:FYI (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bombula ( 670389 )
        And just so happens to be the only country to use more energy and cause more environmental damage per capita than the good ole US of A.

        I suppose it's no coincidence that the UAE also just so happens to have one of the few economies in the world that is soundly spanking the US's ass, again on a per-capita basis. And it's not all oil, though their labor practices are nothing to be proud of.

    • Whew (Score:3, Funny)

      by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 )
      It's a good thing they picked such a quiet part of the world. I suppose it's so they can ditch over Iran, which is right across the Gulf, well within missle range.
    • For those of you slightly lacking in geography, UAE stands for the United Arab Emirates, a country located on the Arabian Peninsula just east of Saudi Arabia.

      I didn't know Ric Romero [] was a Slashdot reader.

    • Good. I was worried at first that it actually read UAC - dealing with Doom3 the first time around was bad enough!
    • For those of you slightly lacking in geography, UAE stands for the United Arab Emirates

      Educating others by way of Wikipedia link is the definition of laziness.

      A far more informative (and better researched) link is this [].
    • They're now locked in a massive lawsuit in something like a dozen US States over potential port security, right now, owing to fears that they're going to utterly demolish the (non-existant) port security of America. This space tourism venture is interesting, but there are considerable risks that political hostilities could seriously impact any high-tech operation in the UAE. Also, we are talking about a region that is troubled and definitely outside of the US' "tier 1" for ITAR purposes. It will be interest
    • Pretty funny in french.. Emirats Arabes Unis.. EAU.. or the french word for "Water".

    • Actually, UAE stands for Universal Amiga Emulator [] (or some slight variations depending on who you ask). Those Arabian folks really should quit hogging the namespace ;)
  • ... do I get a window seat?
  • by thewise1 ( 955170 ) <> on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:37PM (#14752925)
    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.
  • by niteice ( 793961 ) <> on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:55PM (#14752974) Journal
    ...that read it as "UAC"?
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:56PM (#14752978) Journal
    It should be noted that this is basicaly the same story as the article earlier today on "Space Race 2.0 has Begun" []. It's an interesting story, though, and I don't mind seeing another link on it.

    Also, for anybody ogling at the $265 million price for the spaceport, this is also about how much an airport might cost. It should also be noted that the UAE is a country where people are spending $1.8 billion on a chain of artificial islands [] arranged to look like a map of the world.
    • All those islands will be sold to rich americans who need their own country to what ever the fuck they want. Michael Jackson is an early buyer. Nobody over there will hassle him about having kids sleep in his bed. You can bet your ass no movie/rock star will be hassled about having drugs or underage lovers or anything else either.

      Give the elite what they want!.
  • attraction. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @11:58PM (#14752984)
    I wonder what the particular attraction of building it there is?

    Probably 3 main things,
    - Cheap fuel
    - Wealthy elite prepared to pay
    - Cheap labour, with little workers' protection (safe working conditions, etc - this is an assumption on my part)
    • Re:attraction. (Score:5, Informative)

      by thewise1 ( 955170 ) <> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:07AM (#14753013)
      As a matter of fact, they are a very worker-hostile country. Labor abuse is a serious problem there, as apparently in order to obtain an exit visa from many of these middle-eastern countries, you need sponsorship from your employer, amounting to an almost forced labor situation in many cases. (reference: []) Many times passports are confiscated, resulting in the inability to leave or in some cases even report this abuse. I've also read another article not too long ago that I can't find now, explaining that many companies import cheap labor from outside the country promising excellent wages and opportunities, but then either cutting the workers pay immediately after they were there, amounting to a situation that many if not most of them can't afford to get out of. They have to work to survive, and never are given enough to get out of the hole and leave. Spaceports are cool and all, but I don't think I'd want to go there to help build one!
      • Re:attraction. (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        As a matter of fact, they are a very worker-hostile country. Labor abuse is a serious problem there, as apparently in order to obtain an exit visa from many of these middle-eastern countries, you need sponsorship from your employer, amounting to an almost forced labor situation in many cases.

        I have worked in UAE as well as in USA. The conditions that you describe above regarding UAE are very similar/almost identical to the fate of H1B type workers and other migrant workers (eg. workers from Mexico) in USA.
        • This may be true, I'm honestly not sure, but I certainly have never seen a human rights watch organization discussing how bad Indian workers have it at Microsoft... and they seemed pretty happy to me when I worked there. (Don't crucify me :p) I also realize that's a specific, not a general observation, so I may be wrong :)
        • Not even close - the worst that could happen to H1Bs is that they get deported back to their shithole countries - the US wouldn't deny them exit.
          • Not true. When the H1-B expires, you do not get "deported" but you get 90 days to leave the country. If, after those 90 days, you are apprehended inside USA, you MAY be deported, depending on what country you come from.

            But rather than deport H1-B workers, who mostly have education and knowledge, I'd like to see a program for deporting people like you.
      • The workers are usually housed in company towns, and end up paying a lot of the money they earn back to the company for food, lodging, etc. We accidently got off of the highway near one and it was a very depressing looking place (they are built far from the areas where the Emirates live) But UAE has no problem getting people to come to their country despite that, may are coming from FAR worse situations. UAE is actually a very beautiful country with very nice people and while I don't think I would go for
      • The reason they are so worker hostile is because the country is saturated with hordes of cheap workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Phillipines and Sri Lanka. Dubai's citizen work force does not have to compete with these hordes since they get white collar jobs. As a result, these cheap low-skill workers are given temporary entry into the country to work. Infact, many of these low-skill workers are known to have paid as much as $1500 for the opportunity to come to dubai and work in those labor camps th
      • Go watch "Syriana". The country it plays in is either Saudi Arabia or the UAE.
      • Re:attraction. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @05:21AM (#14753743)
        I live in the region (Oman, actually, which is much nicer than UAE), and while much of what you say about Dubai is correct, there are some finer points to be aware of that - at least in my opinion - make things even worse.

        First, the labor problems apply only to unskilled expatriates from other countries who fail to uphold human rights as they apply to laborers: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand are the primary culprits. Western expats, by contrast, can usually get assistance from their embassy or consolate if something goes seriously sour.

        Second, the reason why things go sour is that many employers keep their employee's passports. Westerners can and usually do refuse to cooperate with this, especially Americans (for whom it is illegal to relinquish property of the US government to any foreign interest, as I understand it). Once your passport is in someone else's hands, you're pretty much stuck. I have a Swedish friend who got caught in a nasty bait-and-switch deal after giving over his passport, and who got next to no help from his consolate in the Emirates - he eventually had to be 'smuggled' out of UAE to Oman in order to take legal action to resolve things.

        Third, it is very important to understand that 80% of the population of the UAE is expatriate. UAE citizens generally do not work. They are essentially absentee capitalists - owners of property and co-owners (known as 'sponsors') of foreign-owned businesses operating locally. Their guilt lies largely in their complicity with what is almost invariably Indian or Pakistani management in their companies. And Indian and Pakistani middle and upper management is, to a greater or lesser degree, controlled by the Indian and Pakistani mafias. The same 'system' is true for Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Iranian, Filippino, and other companies, but they are very much in the minority.

        So it is important to realize that it is the mafia rackets who organize on the home country side to sucker these victimized laborers into going to UAE to work, and then trap them once they are there.

        There are two underlying problems: the UAE government tolerates this crap, and the home countries do nothing to hold their citizens and/or businesses accountable overseas (No surrise on the second point, just think 'Nike', 'child labor', and 'sweatshops'). Often this is because the same rackets control their own corrupt governments as well.

        International pressure has been quite successful in bringing the UAE in line. They have recently come under serious fire for labor conditions, and they have responded quickly in many instances with legislation and brutal penalities on companies in violation.

        My recommendation is that if you are willing, help make a fuss and keep stories in the news ad public consciousness, because UAE is one of the few countries that actually responds to activism, protests, and international pressure. For example, in response to international outrage at the the abhorent practice of using children (usually foreign, some as young as 3 years old) as camel jockeys, the UAE responded by immediately banning the practice and requiring - no joke - robotic jockeys to be used instead. Check BBC for the story.

    • > Probably 3 main things,
      > - Cheap fuel
      > - Wealthy elite prepared to pay
      > - Cheap labour, with little workers' protection

      I didn't know space ships ran on gasoline. Silly me.

      • Re:attraction. (Score:2, Informative)

        by wall0159 ( 881759 )
        good point. Spaceships mostly run on hydrogen. Where's that mined again?

        oops. We _can't_ mine it. Hmmm... maybe we have to _make_ it. I wonder how we'd do that? Maybe.. just maybe.. we'd need some other fuel source...

        Cheap fuel == Cheap energy. I don't think you'd be arguing that spaceships don't need energy, right kiddo?

        Piss-taking aside, some spacecraft actually _do_ use types of hydrocarbon-based fuel. See [] for more info.
      • I didn't know space ships ran on gasoline. Silly me.

        Silly you seems to be ignorant of the fact that gasoline is but one of the many products obtained from petroleum. The first stage of the Saturn V launch system was actually fueled by kerosene. Most modern rockets use liquid hydrogen, though; and while it could be argued that hydrogen is not a direct petroleum product per se, 78% of the hydrogen produced today is cracked from natural gas or oil. So yes, availability of cheap fuel.

        All these details I lear

    • I have a couple more: UAE is used to audacious projects (the palm islands) and probably wants to have\maintain the image of the world's playground. It's near the equator, that'll help launch costs a bit. It seems like land would be fairly cheap (guessing here)
  • This must have something to do with Michael Jackson spending a lot of time in the Gulf... nment&id=3819248 [] Coincidence? I think not.
  • by putko ( 753330 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:02AM (#14752992) Homepage Journal
    "Because of Ras Al-Khaimah's unique airport and spaceport support facilities, His Highness' commitment to space tourism, and the close proximity to Dubai, one of the world's leading luxury tourist destinations, makes it a choice location for spaceflight operations," said Mr. Anderson. "As a global leader of tourism, the United Arab Emirates is an ideal location for a spaceport. Suborbital flights will offer millions of people the opportunity to experience the greatest adventure available, space travel. We are honored to partner with His Highness Sheikh Saud."

    I know that being nearer the equator is better for launch than elsewhere, so perhaps that helps to cut costs.

    But in the future, when the Gulf has less income, due to less oil, won't their economies die? I have a hard time seeing them sustaining anything once the lifeblood of their economy is exhausted.
    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:07AM (#14753014) Journal
      But in the future, when the Gulf has less income, due to less oil, won't their economies die?

      This is precisely why the UAE is diversifying into things like tourism.
      • They're becoming very much forward-thinking.

        Here are some projects that come to mind, aside from the space port:

        1. The Burj Al Aarab [] - "Designed to resemble a billowing sail, the hotel soars to a height of 321 metres, dominating the Dubai coastline. At night, it offers an unforgettable sight, surrounded by choreographed colour sculptures of water and fire. This all-suite hotel reflects the finest that the world has to offer." - []

        2. Ski Dubai [] - The world's only in-door ski resort,
    • I think that you are making a bit of a generalisation, Ras Al Khaimah doesn't have much oil. The UAE (particularly Dubai) has a fairly diverse economy, so I suspect that it will not necessarily collapse in a heap when the oil boom ends.
    • Less oil doesn't necessarily mean less money for Dubai, at least not immediately. The less oil there is, the more they can charge for the oil that they do have.

      That makes about a gazillion assumptions, like "Dubai won't be the first to run out of oil". But basically, even if we're at peak oil, Dubai will probably be very rich for at least another half-century or so. And when you're talking about ultra-luxe tourist destinations, that's well past your horizon of thinking.

      From a technical level, the primary
      • Re:South-ish (Score:5, Informative)

        by tempestdata ( 457317 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:38AM (#14753100)
        Actually Dubai itself has very little oil. Abu Dhabi is the one with all the oil.. Dubai is actually rich because of all the oil money that flows through its markets. Its like the hong kong of the middle east.. nearly all of Dubai's wealth comes from commercial activity.
    • But in the future, when the Gulf has less income, due to less oil, won't their economies die? I have a hard time seeing them sustaining anything once the lifeblood of their economy is exhausted.


      The royal families in the UAE know that their oil won't last forever.

      Although they have a habit of blowing their billions on outrageously trivial endeavours and decadence in general, they are also investing their wealth into as many non-oil enterprises as possible so that they have a future beyond fossil fuel
      • Wouldn't they do better to buy a diversified portfolio of productive assets?

        E.g. invest in China, Japan, Korea, Europe and the USA? I would think that would out-perform their spaceport.

        The only country (well, city-state) I can think of that successfully pulled off the banking->tourism switch is Venice, and even then, it is a lot worse off than it used to be, when it was a hub of commerce.

    • Well, oil is still a mainstay, but Dubai is also the international banking hub for the entire region.... meaning all of the Middle East and North Africa. They are also a huge port for trade of all kinds. Without oil they'd have to work a little harder but not that much harder to maintain the exact same level of economy.

      I know lots of people my age (28) who grew up in Dubai for part of their lives becasue their father or mother was positioned there in banking or trade positions... these are very white americ
  • A company based in the UAE is currently trying to take over operation [] of 6 ports in the US, including the port of Baltimore. Needless to say, the local radio talk shows are doubling output of useless banter to "do something" about it.
    • "useless banter"? The Senate is going to investigate the sale. That appears to be doing "something."
    • by tempestdata ( 457317 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:50AM (#14753139)
      Oh yes. Dubai (an emirate of the UAE is equivalent to a city state with its own king) has been trying very hard to establish itself on the map as a tourist destination, and as an economic hub for the middle east, as well as the logical connection between the east and the west.

      Apart from the space port, here are some more interesting things about the city:

      1) The World : A set of Artificial Islands being built off the coast of dubai, for the ultra rich.
      2) The Palms : 3 of them actually These are artificial peninsula built in the shape of a palm tree.. Offering luxury houses with private beaches.
      3) The worlds Tallest building : The Burj Dubai.. The end height of the building is secret, but it is rumored to be 2500ft.
      4) The worlds most luxurious hotel : The Burj al Arab. Read up on it.. its quite a place to stay. :)
      5) The World's largest mall : Dubai Mall Will be built near the Burj Dubai.
      6) The World's third largest mall : Mall of the Emirates. Smaller only to Dubai Mall, and Mall of America
      7) The Hydropolis : The world's first under water hotel

      BTW, this country has no income tax. Gas costs about $1.80 a gallon. Labor is cheap.. you can get a house boy/house maid for about $250-$300 a month LEGALLY. I know.. I had one.

      This country is quite liberal too. Alcohol is allowed, though gambling isn't. Newspapers are censored to some degree, and nudity in movies is also censored.
      At the same time, people can wear whatever they want.. beaches in dubai (Jumeirah beach in particular is quite popular with the western folk) look a lot like american beaches. Lots of bikinis, tight jeans, short shorts. the whole deal.

  • As over 90% of the worlds Oil is found in and around middle east, it is a place floating in surplus money. Though some of these nations have made a mess of their resources by going to war and destroying their economy.

    By using UAE as the base, the project team has ensured steady supply of cheap gas for their rockets (or planes?). I hear gas is cheaper than drinking water in the middle east.
  • Space tourism, human trafficking and slavery - and oil, of course - the modern UAE. What an explosive mixture. Where else do we get that. es.htm []
    • Oh yes. Dubai has a dark side.. Its a bit like the wild wild west. The rich make crazy amounts of money, the poor get exploited, and people flock there to try their luck and strike it rich. Dubai doesn't just have a human trafficking problem alone, it has a lot of gang/crime related problems. the funny thing about dubai is, its pretty damn safe. You can leave your front door unlocked, your car running while you run into the grocery store, and walk along at 3 am in the night. The individual minding his own b
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..another man's ICBM.
  • I used to hang out there as a kid, playing Pac-man and Donkey Kong. And later on, Golden Axe. It's very exciting that they're expanding their franchise to UAE, especially since I had thought they had gone out of business. Although the wisdom of building a $265 million video arcade is questionable.
  • Another important attribute of a potential spaceport, aside from being near the equator, is to have a large body of water to the east of you, because usually you're going to be launching eastward (to take advantage of the Earth's rotation). So the UAE also benefits from having an eastern coastline. It doesn't have to be a particularly large body of water; just enough so any spent rocket stanges can be dropped off into the ocean. Alternatively, large stretches of empty land can also work.

  • middle eastern nation into space based on bought plans and oil money?

    Too bad...

    Maybe this will help to take some of the attention off the astronauts and put it back on the engineers who actually work and develop these technologies.
  • Yeah, we're getting a spaceport in New Mexico too. Seems some people really must think this whole space tourism thing is really going to take off... ort_update.html []
  • The UAE might be friendly towards us, but it has a sketchy history when it comes to terrorism. As mentioned, our current administration is trying to sell them 6 of our largest ports. That purchase, however, has been blocked by a 7-member bipartisan group in congress because of the country's terrorist activity. Here are some of the things they mention:

    - The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

    - The UAE has been a key transf
  • "altitude of nearly 100km"

    As the standard definition of space is 100km, doesn't that mean they're not actually going into space? It's just a high altitude flight, not spaceflight. (They could be using the lower US defn, but no-one else will pay any attention to them if they do.)
  • space tourism is. Let's see .... spend millions, likely billions, putting together a special kind of airport so rich idiots can go zoom-zoom in a big fast rocket. And send that vehicle up using an irreplaceable resource. That's going to look really great in 10 years when people all over the world will be struggling to heat their homes in the winter.

    Heck - that alone would be reason enough for some neocon dumbass to go invade them - just out of spite... It's like straight out of Syriana...

    "You want to k

  • I've just come back from the UAE and what they are doing to that country id incredible. They are doubling the capacity of the existing 90 million person per year airport and building another capable of handling 150 million. They have one of the world's biggest ports and expanding control of other international port facilities. Meanwhile the whole country is being developed as a commercial hub. UAE don't have much oil compared to Saudi or Iran and are using the money from what they have to develop as a trad

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan