The UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Sciences has described her excitement at the prospect of landing a probe on Mars.
Sarah Al Amiri is also the deputy project manager of the Emirates’ mission to the red planet in 2021.
In an interview with BBC Arabic, the minister revealed having dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a young child.
She also said she had always wanted to view Earth from space, despite few of her friends understanding her ambition growing up.
“It is normal for people to wonder in what imaginary world am I living in when I say I want to work in space,” Ms Al Amiri said.
“My dream was to see Earth from space but you always hear the word impossible - especially if you are living in a country that was, relatively, a new-born in the nineties.”
Ms Al Amiri said she began developing a passion for space and astronomy from the age of nine.
She later graduated from university with a degree in engineering before going on to work at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.
Today, she is a key figure behind the UAE’s efforts to land a 1,500kg probe on Mars in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country.
The Hope probe is expected to collect more than 1,000 gigabytes of weather-related data, with the aim of providing insights into global warming on Earth.
“There was a clear directive that we should leave a scientific stamp on Mars, not just send a spacecraft to take a picture and we say ‘the UAE reached Mars’,” said Ms Al Amiri.
“In the next phase, we want to be developers of [space] technology in the UAE, and by the end of 2021 we will provide scientific data for scholars around the world.”