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Space camp pushes Middle East frontiers

Residential camp will offer Gulf students courses in shuttle missions, rocket building and robotics.

A space-themed residential camp is to launch in the Middle East in 2010, offering residential programmes in space science history and training for simulated shuttle missions.

‘Space World Arabia’ will provide week-long courses based on a space science curriculum which aims to enthuse students in maths and science. As well as space-training, the camp will offer an ‘Aviation Challenge,’ modelled on military fighter pilot training and teaching cockpit skills along with water and land-based survival techniques.

The Space Investment Company of Dubai (SIC) signed an agreement last week with the US Space & Rocket Center (SRC) to open and operate three new camps in the Middle East, North Africa and Indian sub-continent.

According to US newspaper the Huntsville Times, executive chairman of the SIC, Ghazi Al Ibrahim, made a $1.5 million payment and signed licensing agreements, following a deposit of $250,000 made earlier this year.

The Gulf camp, the exact location of which will be announced next month, will include a hotel and shopping mall and other attractions.

Al Ibrahim, said in a statement “This is an effort to keep our students and our region on the forefront of technology,” adding “The opportunities and associated technologies of space are essentially untapped.”

"The frontiers of space are open to all nations, and this step today will help insure the people of that entire region are excited about the opportunities available to them," said SRC CEO Larry Capps.

"They will take a leading role in preparing the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and explorers. We look forward to a long-term relationship with Mr. Al Ibrahim and share his vision and excitement of bringing the Space Camp experience to the region," he added.

"That's what attracted me to Space Camp," Al Ibrahim says. "Looking ahead to the next generation, they are the ones who will actually begin the exploration of space. The time to prepare them is now."

Space Camp has licensees in Turkey, Belgium and Canada, with plans for a camp in South Korea also underway. Licensed Space Camps pay from 5% to 7% annual royalties on tuition and merchandise to the Space Center.