UAE - Military Survey Department: Partnering in spatial development

    UAE – Military Survey Department: Partnering in spatial development


    Military Survey Department (MSD) is the national organisation of UAE that aims to provide all kinds of spatial data and geographic information both as digital geo-databases and as traditional topographic, air and marine maps.

    Military Survey Department was established in January 1974 to serve the surveying and mapping needs of military units of UAE. The technical strength acquired through this experience made it competent to assume the role of national mapping agency.

    Considering the current trends for common geospatial data framework for UAE, MSD shifted the focus from conventional mapping to being geospatial data provider to a wide spectrum of users in the country. Creation of National Geodetic Network and production of ortho photos were the initiatives in this direction. These data sets were designed and created based upon common national data standards and specifications.

    Military Survey supports various government agencies, private and academic sectors with maps, aeronautical charts, nautical charts, aerial photographs, geodetic control data, etc. It also provides technical advices on geospatial data requirements and applications. The entire initiative is strategically designed to put a solid foundation for the emerging Spatial Data Infrastructure in UAE. MSD’s vision is to provide an integrated spatial data bias to support the decision makers.

    Its main objective is to establish and maintain high quality standards of spatial data infrastructure in support of sustainable development of the country.

    The UAE Military Survey has the capability to cover the activities such as production, management and dissemination of geospatial data.


    Khalid K. Dasmal
    Aerial Photograph System Manager
    Data accessibility
    We are planning to privatise the MSD so that it is easily accessible by the civil departments. We are encouraging the use of data by adding a cost and making it available online. To make spatial data easily available, we are working on a complete data directory. We have designated a team working on the project.

    On SDI initiatives
    We are thinking on the note to have a sort of NSDI for armed forces. We are initiating at national level and working with the cooperation of various sections of civil society to have a different resolution of SDI at UAE level.

    Internal security aspect
    We have a set of agreements with the police department to supply them with data and educate them. We also keep updating their data as per requirements. The data is very secure within the defence forces as there are many security zones through which the data flows.