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His Excellency Director General Dr. Salim M. AlMalik of ICESCO’s Address to the 36th Space Symposium

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Hello everyone. Good morning. This is a very difficult time in every country. My warmest greeting from about the capital city of Morocco, to all of you here in Colorado Springs. And to all those who are attending virtually — Dr. Kathryn Thornton, Admiral Thomas Zelibor, Ms. Shelli Brunswick, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I am honored here today to share my views about what space science means to my organization, the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, ICESCO, and its 54 members states collectively representing more than 1.7 billion people. I would also like to speak about some specific programs of our organization and its sciences, social human sciences, educational, cultural directorate, and discuss the opportunities that we expect to result from our new and ongoing programs.

We all have gathered here in Colorado Springs this morning, because we strongly believe that what we are doing is significant — not only for space — but also for the people living on Earth. It is our good fortune to live in an era where governments, space agencies and other stakeholders in societies are investing heavily in space and scientific endeavors.

Ladies and gentlemen, our generation has been limited to this planet Earth due to gravitational constraints. But we saw those limits broken when the first man reached the confines of the Earth’s atmosphere. For future generations, this has pushed back our boundaries to not only allow us to explore, but to spread humanity across the cosmos.

It now remains to be seen how future generations will create mutual benefits so that no nation is left behind and exploiting the bounties of the vast Universe. I see a time coming soon when we start exploring space together. We will not be Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans … but we will be humans who represent this planet we call home.

I’ve seen this phenomenon previously when people from neighboring rival countries meet in foreign lands and leave animosities behind as they recognize shared heritage. I am thus hopeful that when humans travel together to distant galaxies, we shall do it in peace and harmony as representatives of this planet, and not as distinct races or nationalities. Therefore, to maintain peace in this race for outer-space dominance, we need to reaffirm our commitment to unity and intensify our dialogue to reach a common and universal understanding of our shared responsibilities on Earth, and in outer space.

Such a dialogue needs to happen urgently as the space race intensifies. As Neil Armstrong said, “This is one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Let us therefore hope that the exploration of space would improve the wellbeing of mankind as a whole and not accentuate disadvantages or risk mankind’s destruction.

Therefore, I urge you all to engage the world leaders and governments. We must also engage the youth, women and marginalized communities, and help these groups to see the world in a different way beyond political and racial perspectives. But rather as astronauts see the Earth from space — as one world. On Earth, we’re limited by our national boundaries, but also by the physical one that we cannot traverse unassisted.

However, space is infinite and the discoveries that we can make there together are limitless. I think the time has come that we modify the phrase, “think globally, act locally,” to “think cosmically, act globally.” I have high hopes that our legions for the development of space related scientific progress will achieve our goals towards the betterment of humanity on Earth as we pursue our vision for space exploration.

L-R: Tom Zelibor, Space Foundation CEO, Kathryn C. Thornton, Ph.D., former NASA astronaut and Space Foundation Board Chairwoman, and CAPT Frank L. Culbertson, Jr, USN (Ret.), former NASA astronaut and Space Foundation Board Member-at-Large formalize a partnership with ICESCO at the 36th Space Symposium. Image credit: Space Foundation

To this end, ICESCO has created innovative and inclusive initiatives that engage youth and women peace builders for a world of hope. Along the same lines, ICESCO has also started to reflect on the use of artificial intelligence for peace to be integrated into the education system of its member states.

And we’re working hard to engage our member states, to help shape the future of human involvement in space. Together, let us think, act and work to make space the new frontier for peace. Working to improve life on Earth, ICESCO has invested heavily to improve the water, sanitation, hygiene conditions in schools, initiating a worship program in more than one thousand schools.

Furthermore, to promote innovation, ICESCO has launched an accelerated program for startups initially in more than 20 member states. ICESCO is also providing financial support to women and youth in 10 African countries to help them set up small, innovative businesses.

In addition to working towards the future, ICESCO believes strongly in preserving our heritage for future generations and has thus registered more than 330 historic and cultural sites, in the last couple of years. We’ll invest in, register, and preserve one thousand heritage sites by 2025. We’ve created 30 chairs for science, education and cultural sectors, and we will be providing financial as well as income support for these chairs initially, for five years.

Our aim is to reach 100 scientific chairs by 2025. We at ICESCO believe that the new world order should be about empowering all segments of society and not only benefiting the wealthy. The world we envision for the future will enjoy greater harmony with more equitable resource distribution.

It is thus imperative that the developing world help bridge these gaps and not only continue space exploration, but also apply technologies developed for space exploration to benefit the economic growth of all nation states. The people of every nation should be able to look up at the sky at night and see space as the birthright of each of us.

In order to create awareness in our member states, ICESCO, in partnership with the United States Space Foundation, is holding the Global Space Forum in November this year to develop space science, entrepreneurial mindsets in citizens of its member states. And to provide a forum for networking, outreach and interactive sessions involving leaders in the field, for the purpose of educating the major stakeholders in academia, industry, government, organizations, as well as develop a partnership with individual scholars, professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs. We welcome such collaborations with other partners as well, which should be based in a mutual and institution agreements, and projects of a mutual benefit that have clear goals and objectives, and more importantly, can deliver tangible, effective outcomes and solutions.

I believe that empowering youth through space-inspired technologies, providing them with a platform to develop their skills, gain scientific knowledge, disseminated it back to scientists, is imperative for the development of these countries. Yesterday, ICESCO signed an agreement with U.S. Space Foundation to coordinate space and space awareness education programs, to provide opportunities for promotion of missions and activities, to organize seminars, conferences, symposiums, and involve member state universities and entrepreneurs in the development of the space ecosystem.

ICESCO looks forward to collaboration opportunities for its member states in the peaceful use of outer space, exchange of information and sharing experiences on the development in space science, space technology, and the applications. Initiating joint projects, programs of space science, space technology, and the application in its member states and beyond. Supporting capacity building, skills development, training and job opportunities for talented ICESCO member state students and faculty members in different space agencies.

Finally, I am very appreciative of the cooperation between ICESCO, its member states, and United States Space Foundation, and I hope the Symposium will open new doors of cooperation with others in the future.

Thank you for the privilege of speaking here today and attending this important conference.