To steal a line from the popular television series Star Trek, the UAE plans to boldly go where no other Arab nation has gone before — by sending an unmanned spacecraft to Mars by 2021. And it indeed is a project that we all should support and be proud of.
The mission to Mars will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the UAE and will indeed be a fitting tribute to the march of progress and innovation made by the nation over the five decades. Indeed, already we have witnessed together the remarkable growth and diversification of the UAE economy, forging a high-tech path when it comes to research, science and innovation.
This is a project that President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has noted will coordinate and focus our growing space technologies, providing a challenge for intellectuals across many fields to coordinate and work together, raising the profile as never before and flying the UAE flag proudly across the blackness of space and millions of miles of the dark vacuum to the red planet.
And given the events elsewhere across the Middle East now, the mission to Mars shows the rest of the world and our Arab brothers that the UAE can work in harmony towards a common goal.
“Despite all the tensions and the conflicts across the Middle East, we have proved today how a positive contribution the Arab people can make to humanity through great achievements, given the right circumstances and ingredients,” noted His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in announcing the project. “Our region is a region of civilisation. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilise.”
How true. This mission to Mars is a noble and worthy goal. And in reaching for the stars, the UAE is following in the rich heritage and history of great Arab explorers.