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Driving Inspiration in the Middle East

It’s been almost two months since coming to the land of gold, oil and sand. One of the places that does not seize to amaze me is the Emirates Tower, because this is where magic happens.

One may find the Ministry of Possibilities and to actually explore how young people, the youth, the future of the Middle East come together and explore their ideas.

What is impressive is not just the layout of the building, the furniture or even the schedule of events aimed at inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs or thinkers. But rather, it’s the sense of tolerance, acceptance and agility.

One may here arabic, french, phillipino, urdu, hindi, English and the list goes on….

Sitting in what seems more like a comfortable lounge room with soft sofas, bean bags and cafe bar right at the heart of the Youth hub – one can comfortably feel at home.

People travel from as far as Russia, as close as a stop away to come here to mingle, to share ideas, to engage and share each others accomplishments and challenges.

There is a special energy there, and it reminds me of how strong and power it is when we come together with a sense of focus, determination, confidence and positive emotions in doing something great. It does not mean that there are no disagreements, but it’s about caring enough to wanting others to also do well and to discuss and provide feedback constructively.

One article says that about 20% of the top 100 Arab startups are from the UAE. It’s great to know and when one sits down to think, there are good reasons. At least in Dubai, it feels like an international melting pot, a keen entrepreneurial spirit generally from the shop keeper to the CEO and you can see the hustle and bustle from the markets right up to the highend shops.

There is something for everyone here and it’s what one makes of it.

Startup funding up by 31% in MENA region to reach $893m in 2018

There are numerous startup events happening in UAE and it’s not limited to just blockchain, space, law, economics – it’s really a bubbling ecosystem. Needless to say that Expo2020 is going make the UAE even more central in the global map than ever before.

173 days. A lifetime of stories is the tagline for Expo2020. And you can feel the excitement already.

Construction sites are the norm in Dubai, when I first took the taxi here and the driver speaks of seeing only 5 buildings on Sheik Zaid Road and now there are hundreds if not thousands lined up along the magnificent long road, you can smell something really incredible happening. And it’s only been a few decades.

Now the Expo2020 is like the real show case of what Dubai and UAE has to offer to the world. Run once every 5 years and which originated from France as a World’s Fair since 1844 we can image how throughout the times, each Expo brought in a new breathe of fresh air, making people feel joy and happiness in celebrating the achievements of human kind.

There is a sense of mission and satisfaction in thinking of being here for Expo2020. Firstly 2020 marks a symbolic new start. Reflecting how far we have come, even if it were just for the last 10 years.

Appreciating how much emphasis there is in celebrating the growth and development of Dubai and UAE. One only need to take the metro to think how did this city grow so fast? And when the humble beginnings were all desert? There is nothing that stop the imagination here. With a vision of the next tallest building in the world – beating their own best and the world’s largest shopping mall. The UAE is reinventing itself everyday, every moment and it’s wonderful to be able to live, breathe and be part of it.


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The light at the end of the tunnel- start of a Hero’s Journey

It’s been about two weeks since the end of my MINERVA fellowship and the that time has given me time to reflect and also reconsider what ideas of collaboration, doing NewSpace means.

For a start, going to UNOOSA/China Space Forum, gave me a new perspective on what a space player means in our modern world, and whether it is uplifting the billions without in Global South, technology transfer, progression or building a new path way, combining earthly ambitions such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ with space. Whether you like it or not, depends really in which camp you stand in, how it benefits your view of the world and what impact it would ultimately have – be it the end user, the world, Universe.


The opportunity to TedXRome was one of those gatherings, where discussions on art works can bring tears to your eyes, not because it is about the art, but the ways we express how much it means to the speaker – the very individual. Each of the 18 or so speakers, brought to life, ideas on all walks of life, from insects, to AI, music, the female period, history, astronomy and so on.

The incredible thing was about half the speakers were speaking in Italian and the other half, English. Even thought earphones we could laugh and sense what is being spoken of. A packed Roma Convention Centre of about 1800 + attendees and lots of positive energy. This made me think that TedX serve not just as a place of ‘sharing ideas’, but also an incubation for ideas, where people come to listen, to speak and to share.

I once spoke with a great entrepreneur and when I spoke of those whom are less than encouraging, they remarked quite directly, ‘it’s about finding the right people.’ The right people are not necessary the ‘yes’ person, who would agree with everything you say, rather they are in sync with your way of thinking, at least like a river that flows in a similar direction.

Too often perhaps, we try to strive against this tide. That’s why we get tired, exhausted and have a sense of beyond our depths. I remember having a ride with a fellow lawyer friend and we spoke of this – living not just in the moment, but in the flow. It ought to be with ease, it ought to feel so – natural. Not trying to fight against our grain, but rather feeling the positive energy which invites us to do more of what we do, to give more than we thought we could give and to share this positively to the world.


For the next few weeks, I will be doing an inverse of what I have been doing for the last 6 months. After exploring the depths of NewSpace in Japan and observing the challenges and opportunities, I am now on the other side of the world, trying to explore whether Europe, has an appetitite to do business with other countries – pretty much the same formula with different ingredients. I am curious to know whether there is such an appetite – for foreign investors, businesses and partnerships.

Organising this ESA BIC tour was by no means, walk in the walk. It felt like a pressure cooker – in a good way. As usual, we have choices, to do nothing or to do something.

I got the go ahead from a few important and crucial people and now it is happening.

As the pioneers embarked on the Meiji Restoration, they possibly had no idea what they would end up with – a hybrid constitution? Modernisation? Or as Marco Polo would never have thought he would end up almost as an envoy of Ghenkis Khan. A Guillvers’ Travels to the same continent, but with a different pair of eyes.

In the same way, that preparing for a TedX speak is not simple task of writing and reading. It has to come from the heart, in its purest form, like singing a song to an audience and moving them.


When I train entrepreneurs, I speak alot about realities. A reality and a perceived reality.

Will these institutions be ready for the test? Is the reality that is projected the real thing?

Follow my journey, I call it a Hero’s Journey, as we venture to see the positivities for a potential NewSpace entrepreneur.


NewSpace2060 ESA BIC Tours from: 8 May to 22 May 2019

Proposed schedule:

Schedule is as follows (tentative):

The proposed schedule in May 2019 is as follows:

8 Morning Bochum- Introductions and briefing
8- 9 Bochum + Copernicus Meet
10-12 Darmstadt ESA BIC 13-15 Harwell ESA BIC& UK NewSpace startups
16-19 Sud France ESA BIC Toulouse
20-22 Luxembourg + Space Forum + tour ends and wrap up

There is still time to join the adventure, contact Helen,

Follow us on Twitter/Instagram: #newspace2060

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Environment and space


Human actions have had an indisputable impact on the Earth’s natural environment. Human activities have contributed to deforestation, desertification, soil degradation, depletion of the ozone layer and climate change.

Space-based technologies, such as remotely sensed data, have enhanced scientific understanding of water cycles, air quality, forests and other aspects of the natural environment. These surveying and monitoring tools provide valuable information on the state of ecosystems, which offers objective support for positive environmental action, including conservation and sustainable resource management.





When one looks through the role of space at UNOOSA’s database, one can see the diversity and range of impact that space has on the environment.

Examples include:


source: UNOOSA

Space for Agriculture Development and Food Security

Report on the United Nations/Germany International Conference on Earth Observation: global solutions for thechallenges of sustainable development in societies at risk
Space-based information and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
Space Technologies for Monitoring and Protecting Biodiversity and Ecosystems
A Proposed New Thematic Priority for the United Nations Programme on Space Applications
The United Nations Office of Outer Space does so much to promote space and space applications, yet often it may be easy to overlook the role of UNOOSA purely because the issues they are addressing are so immense.

One of the highlights of the space calender to celebrate and champion the successes include:

Yuri’s Night

Yuri’s Night is the World Space Party. We hope to see you dream, explore, and celebrate with us at the hundreds of YN events held around the world each April.

“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!”
Yuri Gagarin, 1st human in space. 1.jpg


International Day of Human Space Flight

The International Day of Human Space Flight is the annual celebration, held on April 12, of the anniversary of the first human space flight by Yuri Gagarin. It was proclaimed at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly on April 7, 2011, a few days before the 50th anniversary of the flight.


source: 1.jpg

Asteroid Day

Asteroid Day is a UN-sanctioned global awareness campaign. This year thousands of self-organized events were hosted around the world. 48 hours of content and commentary from around the world were hosted by Prof. Brian Cox. He was joined by Astronauts, Experts, and Celebrities.

sources: Asteroid Day

World Space Week

World Space Week, October 4-10 annually, is the largest space event on Earth. More than 5,000 events in over 80 countries celebrated the theme “Space Unites the World” in 2018.  The 2019 theme is “The Moon:  Gateway to the Stars.”

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”

UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

source: World Space Week


Humanity could do so much more by joining forces and putting our minds, technology and entrepreneurship in tackling the world’s greatest challenges.


What do you think of the role of space applications?

What challenges can space applications solve?

What makes a successful NewSpace entrepreneur?

Tweet, like, comment @newspace2060

#newspace2060 @EUJapanCentre




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Exploring space with Blue Origin



As of end of January 2019, Blue Origin has successfully launched its New Shepard rocket for a tenth time, and with each step, we get closer and closer to sending humans to space.

How will humans explore space?  The rocket takes the capture up to space and inside, there are 6 large windows in which customers will have the view of a life time.  They would experience several minutes of weightlessness, before they drift back to Earth via a parachute.  Spontaneously the rocket that launched would escend back to Earth and touch down on a landing pad, reading for the next lot of passengers.





“They’ll have a day or two of training,” Bezos added. “I’m pushing for a day. I don’t think you need two days of training for this.”

Whilst humans are yet to be flown on the flight, scientific payloads were previously taken on board.

Founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, young and seasoned entrepreneurs are waiting to see how human space flight business model will fare.  Whilst tickets are not on sale, one can anticipate the excitement when it does.  Ariane Cornell, head of astronaut strategy and sales at Blue Origin, highlighted they were not selling tickets yet at a recent panel discussion at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum in San Diego Jan. 8 2019.


Envisaging long term plans, it seems CEO Bezos has more than just human space flight in mind, rather taking cargo into orbit and of course humans.




What do you think of human space flight/ space tourism?

What makes a successful NewSpace entrepreneur?

Tweet, like, comment @newspace2060

#newspace2060 @EUJapanCentre


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Travelling with SpaceX

When Elon Musk unveiled the first tourist for SpaceX, the world stopped to listen.

Online fashion tycoon, CEO of Zozotown, Yusaku Maezawa, announced, “I choose to go to the Moon” and this mission planned for 2023 is going to hail the first of many firsts.





Regardless of what people think, there is something that CEO Maezawa has achieved that I think not to be underestimated.   He has positioned himself uniquely where one no longer has to be an astronaut or Government backed  – in order to go to Space.  Ordinary, well, in this case, a far wealthier individual can make that choice to go somewhere where they had always dreamed of.


source: Fortune

The idea of going to space and taking 8 artists with his, is as much as art, science and pushing the boundaries of human imagination.

With an intention to invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and creative people on the weeklong journey in 2023 one can envisage the true ingenuity in this idea.  It is art, business and human inspiration all mixed in.

Art, because clearly his target audience are artists.

Art, because they are more than likely draw, paint, photograph.

Art, because as these art works get brought back to earth, they are going to have an impact on the fine art market no doubt.

Art and business, because can you imagine how much these art works would be auctioned for?

Business because, he may well be creating a new sector for art, where collectors, or be it a new kind of collector may arise?

space x 1.jpg


The term ‘Space Art’ may take on a whole new meaning, and yes whilst initially it would most likely be expensive, but the idea is that eventually, like in Moore’s law, the cost would go down and be accessible to everyone.

“They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth,” he said. “These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us,” says Maezawa san.

Since the Apollo landing, only 24 humans have visited the Moon.

When you watch the youtube of the announcement, what do you see?

It is not about power or about showing off, as some may suggest.  I see a child, a dreamer who has finally come to a point where they can realise that dream.

All entrepreneurs that I have engaged with start with a dream.

Their initial ideas were written on a napkin across lunch.  Sometimes, it was on the train, other times it was at a mountain top.

For some, a serious pain point, motivated them, for others tragic and real.

What took us so long?

What stopped us for so long?

NewSpace serves more than just business, it is about human progression.



The Universe is larger than the eye could see, and if humanity joint forces we will be exploring the Universe much faster.  Space travel is only the starting point, and the sooner we normalise the notion of space travel, like air travel it would open the skies, as it were to the whole of humanity.

Previous generations, may have never imaged how we would travel today.  Not to say that there aren’t concerns of Global south and poverty gap issues – they are serious concerns that ought to be taken into account and mitigated against.  However, society has a second chance when you come to think of it.

I will do a blog on maritime vs space comparison.  In the meantime, the dreamers and entrepreneurs need all the support we can get and everyone has a crucial role to that end.



What are your thoughts about travelling to space?

What do you think makes a successful NewSpace entrepreneur?

Tweet, like, comment @newspace2060

#newspace2060  @EUJapanCentre