UAE Mars mission: who was the Iraqi poet whose words inspired Nasa?

Al Mutanabbi's writings were chosen by Nasa to congratulate the Hope probe project team

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"If you ventured in pursuit of glory, don’t be satisfied with less than the stars."

Those were the words that US space agency Nasa chose to use in a congratulatory tweet to the UAE Mars Mission team after its Hope probe successfully entered the Red Planet's orbit on Tuesday.

The UAE made history, becoming only the fifth nation to reach Mars and the first Arab country to do so.

Nasa's own Perseverance Mars Rover is scheduled to land on the planet's surface in a little under 10 days.

The poet Abu Attayeb Al-Mutanabbi
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Works by 10th-century poet Abu Al Tayeb Al Mutanabbi have been translated into Russian, but more contemporary works need to be too, say experts 

On Tuesday, Nasa told the UAE: "Congratulations on arriving at Mars!" before using the words quoted above.

It is the poetry of Iraq's Al Mutanabbi.

Who is the Arab poet Al Mutanabbi?

The man behind the words is the 10th century Iraqi poet Al Mutanabbi, considered to be the greatest in the Arabic language.

Born into a poor but distinguished family in Kufa in 915 AD, Abu Al Tayyib Ahmad ibn Al Husayn Al Mutanabbi received an education because of his poetic talents.

As a young man he led an unsuccessful revolt in Syria, but became a wandering poet after time spent in prison. Later he became famous in the Abbasid court of Saif Al Dawla in Aleppo.

Known for his sharp intelligence and wit, Al Mutanabbi is said to have revolutionised Arab poetry, specialising in odes praising his patron.

Al Mutanabbi was killed in 965 AD over a perceived insult in one of his poems.

Still, more than 1,000 years after his death, his words are still well known and are considered proverbial.

He is remembered in the country of his birth. A street is named after him, which is a historic bookselling centre of Baghdad.

A statue of him still stands in the Iraqi capital today.