The pandemic may not have ended this year like what we hoped — but several stories of 2021 gave us something to hold on to. More Covid treatments are on the way and scientists are working round the clock to develop boosters and pills to counter the threat of new virus variants. In the UAE— which has always kept its promises — a greener future lies ahead, as the country marches towards net zero in 2050. Plus, more out-of-this-world discoveries are bound to amaze us with all the space missions lined up. Driverless buses and flying cars are no longer just drawings on a board; they are here. The past year had given us a fascinating glimpse of how exciting life could be in the next few months and years. Look up and ahead — the best is yet to come.
The last mile
The target is to get 70 per cent of the world vaccinated against Covid by mid-2022. And when it comes to ensuring that the jabs will reach everyone in the community, the health workers on the ground are the heroes. Here, Nazir Ahmed carries a cooler of vaccines as he looks for the shepherds who must take the jabs in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar, India-controlled Kashmir.
Chug your way across UAE
Passengers could soon zip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from the UAE Capital to Fujairah in 100— on a train. Etihad Rail will connect 11 key cities and regions across the country, as part of a mega programme unveiled this year. By 2030, it is expected to serve more than 36.5 million passengers annually.
What a ride!
An urban ropeway system is eyed for Dubai as the city aims to make25 per cent of trips driverless by 2030. These self-propelled cabins move over ropes at 45kmph. The emirate signed an agreement in July to explore the development.
Hello, Hatta holidays
In five years, your Hatta trips will no longer be the same. The mountainous region is set to become a major tourist destination — with an inland beach, a lake, the longest mountain bike track, and a cable-driven railway.
Keep calm and cycle on
Soon, cyclists in Abu Dhabi can enjoy a long scenic ride across the city, with the upcoming ‘loop’ that will link the Capital’s key attractions. The mega plan will extend the Capital’s 300km cycling network to more than 1,000km.
Off to the Moon
The UAE has taken a giant leap towards landing the Arab world’s first rover on the Moon. Everything is on track for the launch in 2022. This year, the first prototype of the Rashid Rover had been assembled, and it was also tested in extreme temperatures.
Next stop: Venus
Encouraged by its stellar successes, the UAE announced its most ambitious mission yet: Explore planet Venus and the solar system’s asteroid belt. In 2028, an Emirati spacecraft will undertake a 3.6-billion-km, five-year journey. It will perform gravity assist manoeuvres by orbiting Venus and then Earth in order to build the velocity required to reach the main asteroid belt located beyond Mars.
A flying car or a mini plane?
A US-based company is getting ready to bring this autonomous vehicle into the market by 2023-24. It will be like buying a small car and a plane combined — as it can either hit the road or fly into the sky.
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