Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
Last updated 2 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
Khalid Al Ameri: Why the UAE needs to go to space
May 28, 2015
 Print    Send to Friend

Exclusive to The Gulf Today

On July 20th 1969, at exactly 8:18 in the evening, the Apollo 11 spaceflight landed the first humans on the moon. About six hours later Neil Armstrong stepped outside the spacecraft to become the first person to walk on the moon. It was then on live TV that was being broadcast from space to a worldwide audience. He uttered the words that will very likely live on for eternity, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Now, I wasn’t born when the US landed their spaceflight on the moon, come to think of it, my father was barely a teenager in 1969. So it really takes the stories and movies written about the moment to imagine and comprehend how this accomplishment impacted the lives of Americans and human beings across the world.

But usually a picture of stillness is described, families glued to their television waiting for that moment where their country makes history. Coming together for a cause that is bigger than any one individual, one that proves to the world the drive and risk necessary to be described as a leader of the new world.

Fast forward, 46 years later and a tiny country in the Middle East, which is just over half the size of New York has sprung up with its own ambitious plans to explore new frontiers beyond the earth. Just this month two major announcements have been made, one being the unveiling of the UAE “Mars Mission,” which will be launching an unmanned probe on July 2020 to land on Mars the following year.

The second announcement was the UAE Space Agency’s strategic plans for 2015-2016. Plans ranged from outlining a national space policy, human development through training of Emirati women and men interested in careers within the sector, and the establishing of a Space Research Centre in Al Ain.

These plans for UAE’s space missions are both bold and ambitious, nothing new for the UAE. However, it wasn’t until I was on a recent trip to Kuwait that I realised just how important this mission is. During a late night dinner with a friend and mentor we started talking about the UAE’s space initiative and at first I must admit I was somewhat worried. I voiced a little concern that although I was very proud of what we were doing, I felt there was still much more to be done at home, here on earth.

He then responded with words that sunk deep into my heart, “But Khalid this space mission is everything the UAE, the leaders, and the people stand for.” He then continued, “You are the ones brave enough to be the first movers, the ones who take the risks necessary to bring the Arab world forward, you are our window into the future while everyone else is still looking back at the past. This is more than just a mission to space, this is a mission of hope.”

I got goose bumps, everything he said just resonated so well, and really brought a profound sense of pride that I have for my country. The reality is our region is going through tough times, if not the toughest. Not a day goes by that you don’t turn on the news and see the same narrative of violence, extremism, war, and pain. It sometimes feels like the news is on repeat.

But in the middle of all the chaos there is hope, a glimpse into what things could, and arguably should, look like if a country focuses on one thing, becoming better. Many sceptics may argue, why we should put an unmanned probe on Mars when we have all this work to do on the ground? But I have come to realise that the probe landing on Mars, or the UAE flag being waved in space, is only one very small part of the larger story.

The larger chapters in this story are in how we change as a country through the building of a brand new industry, the level of innovation and thought that will be brought into our country and shared amongst our people, and how we will grow as a society through the long hours and hard work to bring these dreams to a reality.

The truth is that the entire journey from this moment forward is the real mission, and it is not simply what we learn about space and Mars, but what we learn about ourselves in the process of that discovery, and what we become because of it. It’s about showing the world that if we believe we can do something we will make it, it’s about hope. 
Follow on Twitter
The author is a columnist on education and youth development.

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Post a comment
Related Stories
Khalid Al Ameri: Are UAE companies doing enough for Emirati youth?
I was 15 years old, it was the summer before I started my junior year in high school, and my dad decided to sign me up for a summer work programme at a large company. I c..
Khalid Al Ameri: What Emiratis can learn from a $40 barrel of oil
In July 2008 I got my first “real” job. I was this wide-eyed newbie who couldn’t wait to work on global deals and rise through the corporate ranks. A couple of months lat..
Khalid Al Ameri: Arab youth: the return of individualism
The European Renaissance, which took place between the 14th and 17th centuries, is highly credited with being the starting point of individualism where one celebrating th..
Khalid Al Ameri: The curious case of the entitled Emirati
It’s been a while since I’ve written on Emiratisation, for the most part I feel as if the topic is similar to that of a song being played over and over again. The headlin..
Khalid Al Ameri: How I prepare for the UAE’s last barrel of oil
Members of my family asked me what my favourite speech was so far this year. What they were going for was one given by me, such as a favourite moment, venue or crowd. Alt..
Advertise | Copyright