20200720 hope probe
An H-2A rocket carrying the Hope Probe lifts off from the launching pad at Tanegashima Space Center on the island of Tanegashima, Japan Image Credit: Reuters

The launch of the Hope Probe, on July 20, 2020, is a major milestone, not just in the UAE’s history, but in the history of the Arab world and the entire region. An unprecedented achievement, it is the first probe of its kind from the Arab and Islamic world.

Led by an Emirati team, the probe has been sent to Mars on a scientific expedition, aiming to reach its orbit around the Red Planet by 2021, coinciding with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

On this occasion, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, confirmed that the launch of the Hope Probe on its historic journey to Mars carries with it the UAE slogan ‘Nothing is Impossible’. It constitutes a national and Arab achievement, and an advanced Emirati endeavour toward furthering global knowledge in the space sciences.

The UAE stresses that it does not only pursue excellence regionally, but globally, relishing the chance to overcome challenges, as an incentive to keep moving forward and achieve the impossible

- Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Emirati writer

Why the Hope Probe? Why Mars?

Some may wonder why the UAE is sending a probe to a planet that is millions of kilometres away from Earth. Travelling to Mars is not based on a whim, but is an essential endeavour, especially for a country that strives to take the lead in all areas.

The UAE does not stop at realising the aspirations of its founder, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, or at securing the country’s interests; its goals go beyond that, to actively contribute to the space sector for the good of all humanity.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, confirmed this when he said: “The UAE has established itself among those who shape the future, and we have anticipated its challenges.” The launch of the Hope Probe is a significant achievement that carries with it several messages, the most important of which are:

Realising the Leadership’s vision and the aspirations of the youth

The Hope Probe realises the wise leadership’s aspirations, and their vision to broaden horizons by diversifying the knowledge and sciences available to the people of the UAE.

The aim is to see Emiratis invest their abilities in scientific and practical pathways full of opportunities for exploration; developing reliable national experts to lead the transformation to a knowledge-based, post-oil economy.

The strategy also helps the Arab and Muslim world gain a foothold in the limitless domain of space, while ensuring the UAE’s continued progress and international excellence in all areas.

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Realising Arab Hopes and Ambitions

The Hope Probe represents a source of inspiration, not just for Emirati youth, but for all young Arabs. It inspires them to adopt ideas that serve their nation, helping them to confidently move toward the future. Therefore, travelling to Mars is not just an important step in the UAE’s advancement, but is a new phase in the fulfilment of Arab hopes to once again contribute to the development of science and knowledge, rather than merely consuming its products.

Through crucial information gathering, surveys and scientific experiments, the probe will add to Arab knowledge in space science and technology. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (may God protect him), emphasised that: “The UAE is making history with an unprecedented Arab space achievement,” he added that “having confidence in the UAE youth does not disappoint”.

The UAE’s Successful Journey

The Hope Probe is the culmination of a long journey that started several years ago, during which the UAE has made significant achievements. The launch of Dubai-Sat1 ignited the UAE’s desire to excel in this vital field. The establishment of the UAE Space Agency followed in 2014, the first of its kind in the Arab world. While in 2015, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) was launched, putting theory into practice and creating concrete plans to realise goals.

Its first achievement was building and launching the Emirati satellite, KhalifaSat. Following this, a significant leap forward came when the UAE succeeded in sending the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to the International Space Station. Hazza Al Mansouri flew with an international team in the Russian Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft and reached the International Space Station on September 26, 2019.

It was a true milestone in the history of the UAE and entire Arab region. Now, the launch of the Hope Probe underlines the maturity and significance of Emirati experience in this field, particularly as it is an entirely Emirati-run project, from the initial idea to its realisation.

Supporting the UAE Centennial 2071

The Hope Probe contributes to the UAE Centennial 2071 goal of making the UAE the best country in all areas by its centennial anniversary. It is not easy to become the best in the world, particularly amid rapid development and intense competition in almost all fields.

It cannot be achieved without engaging in scientific advancement in critical areas, primarily, space science. The steps the UAE has taken, in terms of the strategies adopted, entities established and its accomplishments, prove that the country is confidently advancing toward this great objective.

Serving Humanity and Contributing to the Development of Civilisation

The mission to Mars comes as part of intensive global efforts to address the major challenges facing the world, including climate change. The probe will examine the Martian atmosphere and changes taking place there, benefiting from the data collected.

Moreover, the mission will explore the promising planet, especially as there are indicators that life could be viable on Mars. Earth’s resources are being depleted, and if climate change is not addressed within the context of a global vision, it could result in disaster.

Studying space serves all of humanity, not only by improving our understanding of Mars, the solar system or even the infinite universe, but by providing new resources. Humanity could at some point benefit from Mars’ rich resources, opening up immense prospects for human life on earth and in space.

Above all, this project allows us to better contemplate the greatness of God, who created the universe and empowered humanity to explore its secrets and make the most of its limitless resources.

The Hope Probe Enhances UAE Soft Power

In addition to the immense scientific and exploratory importance of the Hope Probe, this mission undoubtedly strengthens the UAE’s global position. Its soft power gains remarkable momentum worldwide, thanks to the country’s unprecedented achievements that increase its political and scientific influence regionally and globally.

The UAE is highly regarded in many sciences, while its educational institutions occupy top positions in global rankings.

Moreover, the country has made significant strides in key areas that serve as benchmarks for the progress of nations, including health care, education and economic well-being. All of these elements enhance the country’s soft power and consolidate its international status.

After the Hope Probe, What Comes Next?

The Hope Probe is not the beginning, and is certainly not going to be the end. Despite the magnitude and importance of this achievement, the UAE’s vision looks much further. It seeks to actively participate with developed nations in space exploration, and strives to send manned missions to space.

These missions, and the substantial difficulties they present, are a significant challenge not only for the UAE, but for all humanity. However, they are not impossible, thanks to the UAE’s determination, considerable resources, and the insightful vision of a wise leadership that believes nothing is impossible as long as there is a strong will.

The UAE’s space exploration project confirms that it is leading the Arab and Muslim world to new horizons in modern science, challenging the monopoly of the traditional powers in this area.

The UAE stresses that it does not only pursue excellence regionally, but globally, relishing the chance to overcome challenges, as an incentive to keep moving forward and achieve the impossible.

This was conveyed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, when he said: “We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward.”

Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi is a noted Emirati writer