Nowadays, we are mentally racing towards the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, in preparation for the historic moment of the launch of the Hope probe towards Mars. However, before the countdown starts, I would like to highlight the fact that this journey into space would not be starting in Tanegashima, but here in this desert. This arid land raised people who hope for a better future, challenge the impossible, and work towards building the UAE. The Hope probe was built by Emirati minds, and transported by Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre with the utmost care to Al Maktoum International Airport to be placed on a giant cargo plane to Japan.
When the pandemic of Covid-19 occurred, many satellite programmes around the world were disrupted. However, the UAE's decision was clear; the Hope probe will be launched on time, and the team must take all challenges into consideration. Some members of the launch team travelled to Japan in advance and spent the quarantine period away from home. They prepared for receiving the probe and finalising the arrangements.
This was the probe's journey. As for the story, its first chapters were written by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the '70s, when he met the NASA team that was part of the Apollo space programme. That meeting was the start of what we are witnessing today in the UAE's space sector, bringing the UAE at par with other nations with developed space programmes.
Our aspiration with regards to space is not new. In the olden days, our ancestors dreamt about exploring the orbits, pondered over the world of stars and planets, and contemplated the mysteries of the universe. Gradually, space became 'the dream' of Arabs and it was passed through generations. The Arab astronomers have given the world more than 10,000 books and manuscripts, some of which are still considered valuable references by prestigious international universities.
Now, with our great leaders, the long dream of the Arabs is turning into a reality with the Hope probe filling the gap in the Arab civilisation. Today, we are a few days away from the journey of 493 million kilometres that the Hope probe will undertake to reach the Red Planet.
At this moment, I must gratefully acknowledge, the UAE Space Agency and all those working in the space and advanced sciences sector in the UAE. You have confirmed that the hopes can be achieved by action, and that the most effective tool for facing the future challenges is science and innovation. This is the message of the Hope probe to the Arab youth. As for its message to the Emirati men and women, remember: if the path of Hope will be the last page in the first 50 years since the federation was formed, we want you to make it the first page in the next 50 years.