What lessons can be learned from the UAE’s Mars mission?

More than 200 Emirati engineers worked on the development of the Hope Probe, showing the value of teamwork

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - February 09, 2021: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (3rd R) and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Defence (2nd R), witness the arrival of the Hope Probe in the orbit of Mars, at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. Seen with HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai (4th R) and HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs (5th R).

( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )
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On February 9, along with my fellow Emiratis, UAE residents and many others around the world, my family and I sat impatiently in front of the television, waiting for the UAE’s Hope Probe to enter the Martian orbit. The probe successfully did so on its first attempt, leading Emiratis and well-wishers to cheer.

Last week, the UAE’s first mission to Mars sent back its first picture taken of the red planet. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, commented on Twitter alongside the image, saying: “The transmission of the Hope Probe's first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration. We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity.”

The Hope Probe made the UAE the first country in the Arab World to reach Mars, and only the fifth in the world. Not only did this mission inspire pupils across the country and the Arab World to consider a career in space, but it provides invaluable life lessons.

No dream is too big

If the Hope Probe has proved anything, it is that nothing is impossible or beyond our imagination. The UAE worked relentlessly for the past few years on this mission, and it succeeded. Entrepreneurs are often advised by their friends or colleagues to focus on their local markets and that becoming the next big thing is a stroke of luck that doesn’t favour everyone. A friend of mine has been continuously advised by her family to not dream too big so that she wouldn’t disappoint herself, and to be satisfied with her humble business. But she didn’t settle. She aimed high and was able to prove them wrong. You should do the same. Opportunities often unveil as high and far as you aim.

Don’t let challenges deter you from your goal

The UAE launched its Hope Probe to Mars on July 20 last year, in the midst of a global pandemic. This served as a gentler reminder to not let challenges deter us from our focus. In business, it is not uncommon to face situations beyond your control. It could be an economic downturn or a pandemic that forces you to re-strategise and rethink your entire business operation. Stay focused and view challenges as opportunities that could inspire you to learn and grow.

The first close-up image of Mars captured by the Arab-made Hope probe. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid / Twitter

It takes teamwork to go to space

Going to space is one mission that can’t be done solo. More than 200 Emirati engineers, men and women, worked on the development of the Hope Probe. In life, just as in business, teamwork will get us to our destination faster. An acquaintance told me recently how for the longest time, she managed everything herself in her business, because she believed that she could do it faster than anyone else, and that no one would get things done the way she did. It wasn’t long before she collapsed from stress, and knew that she was sabotaging her business by working this way. Teamwork brings fresh perspectives. Collaborating helps you innovate, evade potentially negative consequences and most importantly, to learn and grow together.

Don’t stop when you reach your destination

Mars isn’t the limit for the UAE. The country already had plans to send the first Arab mission with Emirati astronauts to the moon by 2024. The UAE will also establish specialist satellite development plans, educational programmes, a space centre simulator and other initiatives.

Build on your goals. Challenge yourself and explore your horizons. You never know where you might land next.

In the middle of a global pandemic, the Hope Probe gave us hope. It reminded us to always aim beyond our expectations, shoot for the furthest star and let challenges inspire us to strive and succeed.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi