The UAE and Arab world will make history on Tuesday night – even if the Hope probe does not succeed in orbiting Mars, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.
As the spacecraft approaches the Red Planet it faces the most perilous stage of its mission.
The complex manoeuvre needed to take the probe from high-speed space travel into Martian orbit has a 50 per cent chance of success.
"The biggest challenge will be to enter the orbit of Mars," Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and the Ruler of Dubai, said in a video message on Twitter.
"Fifty per cent of human missions that tried before us could not enter orbit. But I say even if we do not enter orbit, we have entered history."
If all goes to plan, the mission will be a landmark moment for the country’s 50th year, he said.
Earlier, on Twitter, he wrote: "Tomorrow, we will start preparing for the next 50. Tomorrow, we prove to the world that nothing is impossible for the Emirates and Emiratis.
"Tomorrow, we will take Arabs to the farthest point [they have ever been] in the universe."
On Tuesday, the UAE-built spacecraft will reach Mars after a seven-month journey through space. The highly complex manoeuvre needed to take it over the final hurdle has a high chance of failure.
From 7.30pm, Hope’s thrusters will begin firing to slow it and take it where needs to be for gravity to capture it and hold it in orbit.
A communication delay will mean mission control at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre will not know if the move was a success for almost 30 minutes.
If successful, the UAE will become the fifth space agency to achieve the feat after missions by the US, the former Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and India.
Late on Monday, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, visited the space centre to give his good wishes to the engineers.
"I reviewed the latest preparations at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, in anticipation of the arrival of the Hope probe to Mars, and looked at the various scenarios for the last moments of the probe reaching its goal," Sheikh Hamdan wrote on Twitter.
"We are all proud of this young team that worked on one of our most important and ambitious projects."
He said the probe was a message of hope, ambition and achievement for young men and women across the Arab world.
"We are proud that the UAE, which was founded five decades ago, will become the fifth country to reach Mars, God willing," Sheikh Hamdan wrote.