Sheikh Mohammed
"The UAE’s ambition in the space sector to explore, plan and make the future": His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Image Credit: Twitter/@hhshkmohd

Even as the Hope Probe is cruising towards the red planet to study Martian atmosphere, the UAE on Saturday announced another bold space project – the Arab world’s first Moon mission by 2024. Launched from Japan in July, the probe will reach Mars in February, the country’s second space mission after Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati man to go into space on September 25 last year and spent over a week on International Space Station. Al Mansouri and the UAE’s reserve astronaut Dr Sultan Al Neyadi are attending a training programme at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston for long-hauls space missions and spacewalks.

Announcing the moon mission, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “The UAE’s ambition in the space sector to explore, plan and make the future. Our youth, engineers and pioneers open new horizons in the science, technology and innovation fields in this vital sector for the future of our world.” He said the UAE’s space sector represents a tributary to the Arab space sector with the experiences it has gained and the knowledge it has developed and the strategic partnerships it has held.

The current and future space missions place the UAE ahead of other countries in the region in the field of scientific advancement. They show the leadership’s determination to develop scientific temper among the national population and raise a cadre of Emirati technocrats, astronauts and space engineers who will independently conceptualise and execute future projects. Also on Saturday, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre unveiled its 2021-2031 strategy which includes the UAE National Space Programme and covers the five basic components of the Emirates Mars Exploration Project Hope Probe, 2117 Strategy, the UAE Astronaut Programme; the Satellite Development Programme, and the UAE Space Sector Sustainability Programme.

The announcement of the moon mission also demonstrate the UAE leaders’ determination to remain focused on national goals despite current global challenges of the pandemic and economic downturn. The UAE’s pursuits will encourage other countries in the region to invest in science and cultivate a vast pool of Arab talent capable of handling complex projects in various sectors, reducing dependence on foreign workforce in the coming decades. In the short run, Al Mansouri’s space launch, the Hope Probe and the 2024 moon mission will become significant milestones, generating immense interest among Emirati and Arab youth towards scientific knowledge and advancement.