The seven-state United Arab Emirates is quickly becoming the center of the Middle East’s space effort, with agreements with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital spaceport and Bigelow Aerospace to develop an orbital spaceflight program. In the process, it is riding the crest of a new commercial wave in how human spaceflight will be conducted.
Questions on Security Mar Foreign Investments The New York Times
Executives at Virgin Galactic, by comparison, say they remain confident they can clear up government concerns about the proposed sale of 32 percent of their venture to Aabar Investments of Abu Dhabi, which is controlled by the government there.
US inquiry into sale of Virgin Galactic stake to Arab investor The Times
The United States has launched a national security investigation into the proposed sale of a stake in Sir Richard Bransonâ€™s Virgin Galactic space company to Arab investors.
The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) is understood to have begun a review of Sir Richardâ€™s sale of a 32 per cent stake in Galactic to Aabar Investments for $280 million (Â£170 million). The move has caused alarm in banking circles in Abu Dhabi and could raise tensions between the US and the Gulf.
There’s an interesting story in The National about how Aabar Investments – a company backed by the Abu Dhabi government – has transformed itself from a small energy firm into a high-tech powerhouse with investments in Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic (32 percent) and Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors (4 percent).
The National reports that Aabar Investments – which has taken a significant stake in Virgin Galactic – suffered a significant second quarter loss:
Aabar Investments, the Abu Dhabi Government-backed investor, swung to a loss of Dh2.18 billion (US$594 million) in the second quarter after using derivative financial instruments to soak up risks from its acquisition in the luxury car maker Daimler.
The loss caps a period of frenetic investment for the group, which has seen it take stakes over recent months in Daimler and Sir Richard Bransonâ€™s Virgin Galactic space travel venture, and helped its stock price increase by half since the beginning of the year.
Rocket Man Arabian Business Richard Branson has been on the receiving end of a fair few jokes in his time. One of the more memorable was in 2000, when British satirical magazine Private Eye ran a front cover of the entrepreneur dressed as Santa Claus with the caption; â€˜No-one believes in you anymore.’
Virgin Trains, his railway operation, was coming under fire for its shocking time-keeping record and Branson himself had just made a failed bid for the franchise of the UK’s National Lottery.
Tourists will be able to journey to outer space via Abu Dhabi as part of a deal by a local investment group to take a stake in the worldâ€™s first commercial space travel operator, the two companies said yesterday.