Head of UAE Mars Mission: More Emirati scientists needed for a competitive post-oil economy

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UAE Mars Mission

Kicking off Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week on Sunday, the head of the UAE Emirates Hope Mission to Mars stressed the importance of training more Emirati scientists and developing an advanced science and technology sector to address national challenges in the post-oil economic period.

“Why is it important to have an advanced science and technology sector? Because it’s critical for the future of our economy, because it’s critical for the future of our nation,” Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Hope Mission to Mars, said.

UAE Mars Mission
Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Hope Mission to Mars By Abraham Que – Own work via Wikimedia Commons

Sharaf was among the experts taking part in The Peoples Mission: Citizens in Space Exploration – a public-facing event that launched Space Week and was organised in association with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), UAE Space Agency, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), and the USA and Mozambique Pavilions.

“To be able to have a competitive knowledge-based, post-oil economy, we need to have an advanced science and technology sector to address our national challenges,” Sharaf said.

“It’s about survival. This is why it’s critical. This is why we need to have Emirati scientists, to help build solutions for us, and ultimately deliver systems that will work in space. Mars is a harsh environment, and we can develop the skills and design needed here, which can also be used for our survival as a nation, and that are critical for the sustainable development of the UAE, the region and the world.”

Referring to the UAE’s Hope probe, now orbiting Mars and gathering vital data about the planet, he said: “A young nation like the UAE, with more than 200 nationalities, has been able to reach Mars in less than 50 years. Over that time, we have built this nation together. So the message here is, let’s put our differences aside and let’s work with the rest of the world. Let’s be integrated into the global system, and make scientists and engineers part of the journey.”

Expo’s Space Week, which runs until 23 October, presents an array of content, discussions and more that will probe the benefits, solutions and challenges of exploring beyond our planet’s orbit.

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