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The man chosen to lead the agency, 62-year-old Prince Sultan bin Salman, is also the first Saudi to fly in space, having flown on a shuttle mission in 1985.
The Saudis also shook up the leadership of a number of government agencies. It is theorized though unproven that this shake-up is in connection with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
What this space agency will actually do is very unclear. What is clear is that it was created in response to the aggressive space effort of the UAE. The competition has forced Saudi Arabia’s hand.