The UAE did not just make history today. It made the future
For more than 400 million of the world's Arabs, 01:58:14 last night was a moment that epitomised an eternity.
It's an understatement to say that the UAE made history last night. It did, of course, but by using history as a springboard, the UAE has catapulted itself and along with it the world into the future. A future of insight and intelligence, beyond mere imagination. For more than 400 million Arabs in the world, one hour, 58 minutes and 14 seconds past midnight last night was a moment that epitomised an eternity.
From Ashra to Wahid, the world counted down along with the first Arabic countdown that saw the lift-off of the UAE's Al Amal (Hope) probe headed for Mars. Along with the rocket soared the imagination of a nation, the expectations of a region, the dreams of all Arabs and, indeed, the hopes of all mankind. Like the probe ensconced in the nosecone of the H-IIA F42 rocket that successfully lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan for its almost half-a-billion-kilometre journey to the fourth rock from the Sun, the Hope itself carries in its belly the ambitions and aspirations of all Arabs who waited for an eternity for the clock to strike 01:58:14 UAE time this morning.
Historically, Arabs have been the fountainhead of innovation and sciences, responsible for not just contributing to but also perfecting everything from algebra to astronomy, calculus to chemistry, and philosophy to medicine while making the world richer with their culture and literature. Ibn Sina, Omar Khayyam, Muhammad Ibn Battuta and Abu Nasr Muhammad Al Farabi were just some of the foremost intellectuals who lived in what has come to be known as the Islamic Golden Age.
Even as some argue that that golden age never set given that Muslims and Arabs continue to contribute to the evolution of mankind, the Hope's successful lift-off in the wee hours this morning marked a defining moment in that journey.
The Emirates Mars Mission will, over the course of the next seven months, cover a cruising distance of 493.5 million kilometres and will stay in the Martian orbit for 687 days. By setting the wheels in motion of the first Arab interplanetary mission, what the young UAE has done is to dispel unconditionally any doubt in anyone's mind regarding the contributions of Arabs in recent times. A nation of fewer than 10 million people that is yet to celebrate its 50th anniversary is now one among only five countries - entities - in the world to have sent a spacecraft to the Red Planet, with the other four being Nasa, Russia, the European Space Agency and India.
As the Hope Probe cruises towards its destination, months before it collects the first data samples to analyse the Martian atmosphere, its impact is already being felt on Earth, right here in the UAE and across the Arab world. Hope has given hope to tens of millions of young minds. The spark of imagination has been ignited. The seeds of inquisitiveness have been sowed. Their thirst for knowledge and intellectual curiosity rekindled, their ambitions unbridled, their appetite whetted, for exploring new frontiers, for conquering the impossible. Because there's no future without Hope.