The Technology Innovation Institute (TII), part of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), has announced the opening of the Abu Dhabi Quantum Optical Ground Station (ADQOGS). The state-of-the-art facility, the first in the Arab world and largest in the MENA region, is dedicated to developing secure free-space optical communications.

The station will seamlessly integrate Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE into the global Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network. As one of the most mature quantum communications technologies, QKD enables secure and private communication by using quantum signals to establish encryption keys immune to tampering or interception.

While the current optical fibre infrastructure is suitable for hosting metropolitan QKD networks for distances under 100 kilometres, significant signal loss in long-distance fibre connections renders global-scale fibre-based quantum networks impractical. To bridge international distances, an architecture based on free-space optical transmission between satellites and ground-based receivers is currently the only viable solution.

The ADQOGS will ensure regional connectivity, serving as a master station for the availability of ultra-secure key material, future-proofing secure networking in the UAE. The announcement further demonstrates TII's ability to collaborate with the global research community building on its existing partnerships such as its collaboration with the National University of Singapore's Centre for Quantum Technologies.

Located at Al Sadeem Observatory in Al Wathba, the 2,363sqm facility hosts a fully automated astronomical dome housing an 800mm diameter tracking telescope, a control room for operational oversight, and a sophisticated weather station for sky monitoring and scintillation estimations. Complementing these facilities, a secondary platform will be made available to accommodate local and international portable optical ground stations, fostering collaboration in the sector.

At the heart of the facility, ADQOGS is equipped with a versatile Quantum Acquisition and Tracking system designed at TII. The fully automated quantum receiver module detects quantum signals within the 760nm to 860nm wavelength range, while a unique optical system design guarantees compatibility with a wide range of uplink and downlink beacons, supporting high throughput optical modulation schemes, ranging from 680nm to 1,600nm.

Speaking at the opening of ADQOGS, Dr Ray O Johnson, CEO of TII, said: “The inauguration of ADQOGS goes well beyond identifying and implementing disruptive technology – it is about cultivating a hub of innovation and knowledge. Our facility epitomises the pinnacle of quantum technology while serving as a centre of excellence for training, helping to nurture the emerging quantum technology sector in the UAE. For a relatively young entity such as ours, I am proud that we are actively shaping the future of secure data transmission on a global scale.”

Dr James Grieve, Senior Director in TII’s Quantum Research Centre, said: “ADQOGS marks an important milestone in the UAE's pursuit of technological leadership. The station prioritises technological sovereignty in quantum communication, and it will bolster the country’s growing credibility in advanced technology and innovation, positioning the UAE as a global hub for quantum research and development.”

As part of ATRC’s vision to transform Abu Dhabi’s economic landscape, ADQOGS is committed to fast-tracking commercialisation opportunities in secure communication technologies and expanding their application across sectors such as telecommunications, data centres, finance, and critical infrastructure. The station will bridge the gap between quantum research and practical applications while advancing quantum secure communication infrastructure in the UAE.