Dignitaries at the event included His Excellency Ambassador Obaid Salem Al Zaabi Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, alongside all GCC UN Ambassadors, with other overseas missions represented by Jordan, Pakistan and Spain. Senior officials from various international humanitarian bodies also attended the forum to identify collaboration opportunities and strengthen the emergency response framework including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Organization for Migration(IOM).
Opening the inaugural ‘Enabling through Connectivity’ forum, His Excellency Obaid Salem Al Zaabi stressed upon the importance of the role private companies and satellite communications companies play during crisis response and sustainable development. He highlighted that Yahsat’s approach is aligned to the UAE’s vision for humanitarian efforts and reinforced the importance of wider industry collaboration.
Najat Abdulrahman, Yahsat Executive Director Global Strategic Business Development, spoke in greater depth on Yahsat’s capabilities and solutions developed specifically for the humanitarian sector. She cited Yahsat’s involvement with the Crisis Connectivity Charter as a prime example of cross-agency and private sector collaboration. The industry-wide initiative is designed to accelerate the ability of emergency response teams to access satellite-based communications in times of crisis.
Abdulrahman also discussed the impact of sustainable development projects in Asia and Africa, where the combined efforts of Yahsat, its service partners and government agencies, have resulted in local and regional socio-economic development. These include providing connectivity to remote libraries in South Africa, e-learning to Maasai community schools in Kenya and adult learning opportunities to women and children through the Karakoram Area Development Organization in northern Pakistan.
Commenting on the forum, Abdulrahman said: “The satellite sector is now part of the first responder team that provides immediate communications links to support logistics, urgent medical care and coordinate relief. We believe that standing by the communities we serve during times of crisis is not an option, but an obligation.”
“Today’s forum represents a stepping stone towards meeting the operational and communication requirements of humanitarian bodies in times of crises. We look forward to working with humanitarian organisations to assist people in periods of difficulty and ensure that relief efforts are carried out seamlessly,” added Abdulrahman.
Erwan Emilian, CEO of IEC Telecom added “When the IEC Telecom Group established its office in the UAE in 1998, we did so knowing all too well that our efforts in contributing to the advancement of the UAE’s satellite communications will be met with the required support. Ten years on, we are now present in 10 countries around the world including Switzerland, where we meet today in Geneva. Our primary goal is to serve the humanitarian community regardless of landscape or circumstance. Our integrated offering of Yahsat’s Yahclick service, vertical applications and Value Added Services provides a reliable high throughput connectivity to Emergency Response Units across many of the territories they operate in.”.
Yahsat, one of the pioneers of Ka-band solutions, having launched its services across Africa, the Middle East and South West Asia in 2012, will extend its coverage to over 1 billion people with the launch of Al Yah 3 in 2017.