In the United Arab Emirates, “seeing red” has taken on new meaning. Throughout the small Arab kingdom Tuesday night, buildings were lit up with a crimson glow signaling their latest achievement.
The UAE is the first Arab nation (and only the fifth country or space agency) to successfully reach Mars. The UAE’s Hope probe, sent to study the red planet’s weather, arrived in orbit Tuesday.
By bypassing the moon and boldly shooting for Mars, the UAE is inspiring technical and scientific innovation. It’s part of a broader shift from oil to a knowledge-based economy. “If you want to stimulate growth really rapidly, and you want to enable an entire generation to develop their skills and capacity and capability at a rapid manner, you need to take on large risks,” Sarah Al Amiri, chair of the UAE Space Agency, told Axios.
The UAE partnered with Japan and several American universities. But nearly half of the 450 people working on the Hope mission are Emiratis. Women make up 80% of the mission scientists and 34% of the engineers. All are developing valuable skills, and a taste for reaching for the stars.
And every time another nation on Earth reaches another planet, it makes the cosmos less distant and more accessible.
In the UAE, they’re savoring what’s been achieved. “Let us all look up to the dark sky and smile,” wrote the Gulf News.