DUBAI — Elon Musk, SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO, denied on Friday the media reports from earlier this week that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) intended to invest in a multibillion-dollar funding round in the company, according to Reuters.
An arm of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and an Abu Dhabi-based company were reportedly looking to invest in Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to The Information on Wednesday, which cited people familiar with investor discussions.
Two of the American tech news outlet's sources indicated that SpaceX and Morgan Stanley, the organizers of the ongoing funding round, told investors that Saudi Arabia’s Water and Electricity Holding Company, which is part of Saudi Arabia’s PIF and Alpha Dhabi from the UAE, were involved in the funding round.
But on Friday, Musk tweeted “not true” responding to the report.
Not true— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2023
Saudi interest in Musk’s SpaceX is turn in events, as Riyadh played a role in a recent lawsuit of his other company, Tesla, which involved investors suing the electric car company after they claimed that statements made by the CEO in 2018 made them lose money.
In a January testimony, Musk said he had not lied or misspoken about his plans to take Tesla off the stock market in 2018, testifying in Federal Court that PIF had "unequivocally wanted to take Tesla private," according to The New York Times.
The funding round is expected to value SpaceX at $140 billion, according to The Information report.
Previously, the American private spacecraft manufacturer had raised $2.6 billion in 2020, and then another $2 billion in 2022, according to venture capital firm Space Capital.
Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have invested in launching their space industries in recent years and partnering with private space agencies.
The UAE successfully sent its second astronaut into space earlier this month with the SpaceX Dragon capsule, named Endeavor.
This 2023 mission is expected to take the Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station for about six months, making it the longest Arab space mission in history, according to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center.
The UAE has placed the space industry among its top priorities for the next 50 years as part of its developmental and economic strategy, Projects of the 50.
The country has spent about $6 billion on space-related activities between 2015 and 2020, and contractual agreements for space services increased by 40% in 2020, according to the UAE Space Agency.
Saudi Arabia is looking to follow the UAE's lead with its space endeavors and announced that it will be sending its first female astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, into space this year along with fellow Saudi Ali Al-Qarni for a 10-day mission to the space station, according to the country's government news agency.
Space travel and building an ecosystem around the industry is part of Saudi Arabia’s national strategy Vision 2030, which outlines forging partnerships and injecting 8 billion riyals ($2.13 billion) into the industry, according to the Euro-Gulf Information Center.
By 2030, the global space sector is predicted to exceed $1 trillion, almost doubling its market size compared to 2020, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.