Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Launch of Hope shows that nothing is impossible

Despite the coronavirus and a global recession, the UAE never gave up on its space ambitions

The UAE's Hope probe takes off on its journey to Mars on Monday. AFP
The UAE's Hope probe takes off on its journey to Mars on Monday. AFP

On Monday, the UAE made history once again, this time as the first Arab country to send a probe to the planet Mars. After having been postponed twice due to bad weather, the Hope probe launched yesterday at 1:58 am. The Mars mission is a point of pride for the UAE and the Arab world. It has been hailed as the nation’s “greatest achievement yet” by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. News of the launch is especially inspiring at a time when global affairs are dominated by bleak outlooks on growth and gloomy predictions about the world's economy.

First announced in 2014 by Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, the Mars probe has now taken off against all odds. Despite a major healthcare crisis that pushed the world economy into recession, the UAE refused to give up on its space programme. The Mars mission went ahead as planned, with only a few days of delay due to bad weather, which can impact any space launch.

The Hope probe is an unmanned spacecraft, made in the UAE and launched into space from Japan. Its primary mission is to study the climate of the Red Planet and provide scientists with vital information to expand our understanding of the universe. The data it will provide will be the first of its kind made available to scientists around the world.

While the mission is first and foremost scientific in nature, it is also deeply symbolic. Hope is what the world desperately needs, especially at a time of increased hardships and division around the globe. The probe is also expected to reach the planet Mars in February 2021, soon after the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

Despite being a homegrown project, Hope is meant to shine beyond the borders of the UAE. It embodies the aspirations and the ambitions of an entire region. The online campaign for the event launched the Twitter hashtag First Arabic Countdown and Emirati leadership has highlighted the pan-Arab nature of this achievement.

Most significantly, the Mars mission is testament to the UAE’s keenness to invest in its youth and empower new generations of Arab scientists and innovators.

While the mission is first and foremost scientific in nature, it is also deeply symbolic

According to data from the UN Development Programme, 60 per cent of all Arabs are under the age of 30. Young people are the region’s biggest asset and the face of its future. Yet many are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. With the exception of Gulf nations, unemployment and dwindling opportunities are prevalent in too many Arab countries.

The UAE’s space programme and the Hope probe itself cannot change this reality. But they show young people in the region that there can be a better future. In the words of Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, the space programme "will inspire the young generation to make the impossible, possible." The Mars mission aims to empower talented Arab youth and encourage them to pursue the careers of their choice and follow their dreams. The UAE Space program is open to the best and brightest of Arabs to join its ranks. Its very existence is also proof that Arab countries can succeed in any endeavour they wish to pursue, if only their people and their leadership decide to work together towards achieving their goals.

Updated: July 20, 2020 07:17 PM

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