Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Why the Hope Mission will drive the UAE into a new decade of innovation

The $200m investment into the Hope probe will advance our scientific understanding

The Hope spacecraft being prepared for its seven-month-long journey to Mars. The probe is set to be launched on Friday, weather permitting. Courtesy: Emirates Mars Mission 
The Hope spacecraft being prepared for its seven-month-long journey to Mars. The probe is set to be launched on Friday, weather permitting. Courtesy: Emirates Mars Mission 

As the rocket taking the UAE’s Hope probe on its mission to Mars takes to the skies later this week, it will also launch with it a bold economic opportunity that will inspire future generations in the UAE and across the Arab region.

The $200 million (Dh734.5m) investment into the Hope Mars Mission will advance our scientific understanding and will mark another significant milestone in our nation’s journey towards becoming a more knowledge-based economy, and is a leap forward in the UAE’s innovation and ambition.

As we emerge from the shadow of Covid-19 and focus on the economic challenges generated by the lockdown, it is this unique ambition and innovation of the region combined with optimistic, bold action that will reignite our economy.

As a business community, we must act decisively even with some continuing degree of uncertainty still in place caused by the ongoing virus. We have a responsibility to the communities in which we operate to do more, be more responsive to their needs, and contribute to driving our economy forward. In doing so, we need to be mindful of the fact that the world has changed for all of us, as we forge ahead into a new normal. Consumer spending has been affected by the changes to our lives during the past few months, which has seen us act differently in the way that we work and socialise. With the change in consumer behaviour, we have seen some sectors unaffected, even boom - such as parts of the technology and wider digital economy, especially e-commerce. However, the vast majority of businesses have not. They have had to make difficult decisions in how they operate within a changing environment rooted in uncertainty.

Consumer behaviour has also changed and is being driven more by the search for value. A recent survey conducted by McKinsey found 54 per cent of UAE consumers have become more mindful of where they spend their money, which is unsurprising given 55 per cent of people believe their personal finances will be affected for four months or longer due to the pandemic.

We cannot ignore facts like this and the impact that the past few months have had on peoples lives. The world has changed, and so must we. We have a responsibility as business leaders to review our business models to identify ways to evolve to meet the demands of the environment in which we operate.

This is what we are doing at Cafu, as we transition to a new model while boosting our approach to innovation. I believe the strong companies emerging successfully into this new normal will be those that act boldly and confidently, with a more optimistic viewpoint and with agility in the way that they operate their business model to be more understanding of the needs of their customers and communities. Central to this agility, I believe, is innovation – not just in products and services, but also in terms of thinking and embracing change rather than fearing it.

If we reflect on the financial crisis of 2008/09, we witnessed a boom in creative thinking that led to the rise of companies such as AirBnB, which revamped the market for short-term living for those priced out by hotels. From adversity can come opportunity, from challenges can come creativity in finding better ways to be more responsive, and from uncertainty can come a greater understanding and appreciation of what our community is experiencing.

As the world has started to unlock and return to some form of new normal, the UAE’s government through its foresight to the challenges of a changing world has also reshaped its structure and priorities to drive ahead a strong agenda focused on being more agile and responsive to its citizens and residents, further enhancing its ability to both identify and create opportunities, and achieve success for our nation. We all have an active role to play in delivering a prosperous future for ourselves, our communities, and our nation. As the Hope Mission is proving to all of us and the rest of the world, we can take great pride in the bold innovation that is driving the ambition for our nation, and inspiring a region to dream big and achieve more.

Rashid Al Ghurair is founder and chief executive of on-demand fuel delivery service Cafu

Updated: July 14, 2020 06:15 PM



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