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Well, wasn’t 2020 a year to forget. And right now, on this New Year’s Day, there’s a clean slate, a fresh calendar as hope and optimism abounds. And let’s face it — it’s got to be better than the last 12 months!

This is a year when the UAE will reach Mars. In a little over six weeks from now, the Hope Probe is scheduled to rendezvous with the Red Planet and will enter orbit there and begin its mission examining the make-up of the planet, studying its atmosphere, climate, topography and geography.

Certainly this is a historic event for this nation — the first in the Arab world to venture so far and joining a very unique club indeed of Martian explorers. Our founding fathers, who wove together the binds of this nation, would be proud that within five decades we have travelled so far and so fast.

Indeed, these next months will be focused on laying the groundwork for another monumental occasion when the homeland turns 50 — a year of celebrations — but also a time to reflect on the people and places, traditions and decisions that have led us on our march of progress.

In five months’ time, the UAE will roll out the welcome mat and say marhaba to the world as Dubai Expo2020 gets underway. Yes, the pandemic of 2020 did throw a curveball into the original plans — but the exposition will be bigger and better because of it, with all the more reason to celebrate and look forward to the future.

Yes, in the coming months too, the Museum of the Future will come to fruition, a unique insight into the possibilities of what might be, what is and what was. This is a nation that has never stood still, always remembered its past, nurtured the present and embraced the future — and 2021 will continue that.

There are many changes anticipated too on the regional and world geopolitical stage this year, with the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the US in three weeks’ time marking a changing of the guard in Washington.

Britain too has now embarked on its journey fully outside the European Union — and by early May London will know the scale of the challenges it faces in keeping Scotland inside the United Kingdom. But today, with 2021 freshly dawned, the New Year is wrapped in optimism. Happy New Year!