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Half of UAE's Mars mission leaders are women: Minister

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on August 26, 2020 | Last updated on August 26, 2020 at 11.04 pm
Half, UAE Mars mission, leaders, women, Minister

(Wam file photo)

The probe has covered 20 per cent of its 493-million-km journey within a month after it was launched.

Half of the leadership positions of the UAE's historic Hope probe mission to Mars are held by women, a minister and science lead of the mission has revealed. The probe has covered 20 per cent of its 493-million-km journey within a month after it was launched.

Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and President of the UAE Space Agency, said: "The team behind the UAE's historic Hope probe comprised 34 per cent women, who served in various roles such as engineers, scientists, and academic researchers, and were involved in all stages of manufacturing and design.

"In fact, the only engineer skilled and best equipped to develop the probe's power/force system was an Emirati female engineer - she was the only one across the entire space sector in the UAE who had the skillsets and level of expertise we needed."

She was addressing a webinar conducted by the Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) to highlight women's achievements in various sectors ahead of the Emirati Women's Day.

"Internationally, people often ask me how we were able to have women comprise 34 per cent of the Hope probe's team. In comparison to international teams working in the same field, this percentage is among the highest. I'm proud to say that in the UAE, capacities, capabilities, expertise, and excellence are the main factors and criteria that are taken into consideration when allocating human resources to certain tasks, regardless of gender.

"Half of the leadership positions of the Hope probe were women, which shows the crucial role women in STEM-focused positions play today."

Referring to government support for women in the field, she said: "Today, more than 56 per cent of STEM graduates in the UAE are women, which highlights how our country is committed to encouraging women's active contribution and interest in this field from the very beginning."

Covid impact on mission

Al Ameri said that the pandemic struck at a critical time "in terms of the timeline that was set for the launch of the probe".

Stressing on the importance of flexibility in the time of crisis, Al Ameri said: "We had to transport the probe, as well as the team members themselves, from the UAE to Japan. We realised during this process that we had great capacities for risk management. There was flexibility in the way we worked, and made the necessary amendments to our approaches to ensure a successful and timely launch.

"Flexibility is important when it comes to approaches taken to reach a certain objective. Change is good - change means that we are adapting with the world around us, which is necessary for progress. Ensuring that there is efficient risk management before the launch of any project is crucial."

Thanking the UAE community for working together to fight the pandemic, she said: "It was a difficult couple of months. However, with the cohesive efforts of all relevant local and federal entities in the UAE, all of which worked together as one team to ensure the fruition of this project, it was made easier. I would like to thank the team members of the 'Hope' probe - our team members left their country and their families at a very critical time during the pandemic to ensure the success of this pioneering project. They are a role model in work ethic, professionalism, and excellence." 


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