UAE’s Mission to Mars

The Emirates Mars Mission arrived at the red planet on Tuesday, 9th February, and successfully entered orbit on its first attempt. A great success and outstanding achievement for the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, and the UAE becomes the fifth nation ever to reach the red planet.

The probe was the first mission to Mars launched by the UAE and is part of the Astronaut Programme initiated in 2017 to prepare an Emirati astronaut corps for scientific space exploration, creating a culture of scientific endeavour and inspiring Emirati youth to pursue space science.

The probe’s name is Al-Amal — Arabic for “hope,” and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, said the government chose the name as “it sends a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs.” Indeed, the reaction over the past week has shown the mission achieved this objective.

Announced only seven years ago, the successful mission has moved from concept to launch by utilizing innovation, disruption, and transformational leadership. Created and led by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the probe is much more. It is also about inspiration. It inspires a new generation of young Arabs to pursue careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The Hope Probe is a disruptive event that will stop the ‘brain drain’ of STEM Graduates leaving the Emirates to seek opportunities overseas and retain world-class researchers to work in scientific and technological fields locally. It will also accelerate the UAE towards a knowledge-based economy. When a new way of doing something replaces the old way, this is an effective disruption.

Significantly, most of the team responsible for sending the Hope probe to Mars are under 35. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, tweeted in September. “We have great confidence in our youth in carrying the banner of innovation, achievement, and excellence.”

The mission is also about innovation. Innovation is about applied creativity; it is about making new ideas practical. While Hope builds on existing technology, it uses a unique approach to gather data: travelling in an orbit around Mars, no probe has taken. This unique path will allow Hope to study weather changes over the full Martian day. In a show of scientific solidarity, all the data will be available to the global scientific community without charge.

The UAE’s rise as the newest space power has been rapid, and this is due to the Transformational Leadership demonstrated by the UAE Leaders. Transformational leaders seek to motivate and gain the commitment of their followers. This type of leadership is achieved by sharing a vision, raising expectations, and creating a feeling of trust so that followers will perform to a level exceeding their expectations of what was considered possible. The Emirates Mars Mission demonstrates the exceptional transformational leadership of the Emirati Leadership.

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