The first Yahsat satellite, slated to provide high definition television (HDTV) to audiences across the Middle East, Africa and South West Asia, has successfully reached its orbital slot at 52.5 degrees East two weeks after launch.

Yahsat Y1A, which represents part of a 4.4 billion UAE Dirham outlay from Mubadala Development, the Abu Dhabi Government’s investment arm, was rocketed into space by Aprianespace on 22 April 2011, alongside Intelsat’s New Dawn satellite.

"This is a very significant step as we move towards activating Yahsat's services for our customers across the coverage regions," says Jassem Mohamed Al Zaabi, CEO of Yahsat and Executive Director of Mubadala Information, Communications and Technology.

"Our tests thus far have gone well and the satellite appears to be performing properly. It is safe to say the highest degree of risk is behind us and I am confident we will be prepared to activate our services shortly."

The satellite will deliver an array of both commercial and civil broadband internet and voice communication services, as well as providing HD broadcast capability to TV stations across Middle East, Africa, South west Asia and parts of Europe.

A second satellite, Yahsat Y1B - also owned by operators Yahsat or Al Yah Satellite Communications Company - will be launched later this year.

The new satellite communications venture marks the latest stage in Abu Dhabi’s strategy to become both a regional telecommunications and media hub and increasingly significant in the world aviation and transport sector. The move forms an important part of its plan to diversify its economy away from its current reliance on oil, under its ‘Economic Vision 2030’.

The Gulf emirate already has a majority stake in the region’s Thuraya satellite communications venture, while the Abu Dhabi government-owned Aabar Investments also holds a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic, the first commercial space flight initiative from British entrepreneur Richard Branson.