The Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) is a leading communications satellite operator in the Arab World, headquartered in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Arabsat was created to deliver satellite-based, public and private telecommunications services to the Arab States, in accordance with International Standards. With more than 20 member countries, the organization plays a vital role of enhancing communications in the Arab World.
The Arabsat satellites are a series of geostationary communications satellites launched from 1985 through 2011. Some of the later satellites in the series remain operational in orbit, while others have been retired and were put in a orbital graveyard.
The establishment of Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) goes back to the end of the 1960's. In 1967, information ministers of Arab states developed a series of principles in relation to a satellite network. The goal of this network was to create an integration among the countries of the Arab League in terms of the social and cultural activities. On the other hand, the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) was founded in 1969. Saudi Arabia did not join this Egypt-led and Cairo-based union until 1974, most probably due to the tense relationship between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at that time.
On April 14, 1976, Arabsat was formed under Arab League jurisdiction to serve the information, cultural and educational needs of its member states. Saudi Arabia was the main financier of the new organization due to its expanded financial resources as a result of oil-boom period. Also Arabsat's headquarters was already located in Riyadh.
A French Ariane rocket performed the first launch Arabsat-1A. The U.S. space shuttle Discovery launched Arabsat's second satellite, Arabsat-1B, in 1985. Arabsat-1A and -1B were taken out of operation in 1992 and 1993, respectively. They were put in an orbital graveyard.
All Arab League states except for Comoros are shareholders of Arabsat:
Saudi Arabia 36.7%
United Arab Emirates 4.7%
Palestinian Authority 0.2%