February 9 was unlike any other day in the history of the UAE and the Arab world - rather it was nothing short of historic. It was the beginning of a new era as the region entered the space age, just as was for the Soviet Union when it launched the world’s first satellite in the mid-1950s and later had Yuri Gagarin become the first astronaut in the history of mankind.
But the question arises: What was the technological, scientific and economic result of that feat? It simply moved the world into space and advanced communications to change the face and pace of life on the earth.
The same question is now being raised when talking about the UAE Hope Probe.
Purveyors of illogic
As usual, religious and extremist forces and countries supporting them tried to deface this historic achievement for a simple reason. They are just trying to justify their impotence and failure in business and economics.
For example, countries governed by political Islam suffer from poverty and hunger, while leftist regimes have fallen like dominoes, leaving massive economic devastation and impoverished peoples. This is despite the overwhelming wealth some of them possess.
Back to the Emirati and Arab achievement, which holds prospects for faster progress. Ill-wishers try to question the cost of the Hope Probe project, which, according to their perception, was $200 million. And because of their ignorance, they consider this a hopeless investment…
It is a fact the UAE’s and GCC’s problem with all forms of opposition remains as incomprehensible as ever. While they criticize and demand an increase in allocations for scientific research and innovations, they shower criticism when this percentage is increased. As was the case with the Hope Probe - it’s as if criticism has become a hobby for the helpless.
Securing scientific future
Speaking of the cost, let us explain the value of the investment - $ 200 million. The fmost important gain of this project is the preparation and training of 200 Emirati engineers.
This is an invaluable national wealth, and if we assume that each engineer costs a million dollars, then it is a cost worth investing in. And it is an acceptable cost if we know that the value of one “phantom” plane the US owns costs $500 million. Not to mention the human and material infrastructure that has been established and being developed to serve economic and technological goals.
Open to all
As for the volume of data that the probe will collect, it will provide a great service not to the UAE only, which now became the fifth country to reach Mars, but also to all that can benefit from this information, especially as the UAE announced its intention to provide it to everyone.
The probe is expected to collect more than 1,000 GB of new data about the red planet. This represents a scientific treasure and offers a foundation for economies relying on advanced data-based advances.
Recognizing these reasons, the developed world welcomed the UAE’s milestone, as they are well aware of its promising future fruits. And here we can quote some impartial professional statements, including the head of the French Space Center, Jean-Yves Lugal.
“The first Arab exploratory journey led by the UAE places it among the top countries in the world of space and its sciences,” he said. “The Emirati probe will enrich our scientific knowledge because it will be the gateway to a better understanding and knowledge about Mars, thanks to the similarity between the Earth and red planet. “
Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate, tweeted: “Congratulations @HopeMarsMission on your safe arrival to Mars’ orbit! Your bold endeavour to explore the Red Planet will inspire many others to reach for the stars. We hope to join you at Mars soon with @NASAPersevere”.
The UK Ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Moody, said, “ Congratulations UAE! You have shown the world what vision knowledge and commitment can achieve”.
These are just testimonies from three great countries, and reflects well the scientific and technological achievement by the UAE.
- Mohammed Al Asoomi is a specialist in energy and Gulf economic affairs.