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The big push forward
BY ARSHIAH PARWEEN June 20, 2015
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Abdullah runs towards his brother, with a gun in one hand and a belt of bullets hanging on the left shoulder. He throws the gun towards the half broken holed wall on the right side of the street, with which his brother is shielding himself…

Abdullah and Baaz are fighting the enemies in one of the war-ravaged countries in the Arab region…

Meanwhile in the UAE…

Hamdan and Ayesha wake up in the wee hours of the morning. They have to make it quick today with their bathing and breakfast, as they have a very important meeting to attend. But this is not an ordinary meeting. Hamdan and Ayesha are among the chosen scientists working on the UAE Mars Mission…

The above two snippets tell a tale — of hate and hopelessness which has trapped Abdullah and Baaz in a world of despair, and of vision and progress where Hamdan and Ayesha have much to look forward to, much to contribute.

Hamdan and Ayesha represent the dreams of a nation called the UAE.

What does the UAE dream?

The UAE dreams to write a story.  In this story the world views the Arab region as active agents of knowledge and wisdom. It’s a story where Arabs are known for their contributions in the field of science and humanities. It’s a story that will be told, with great pride, by Muslims for generations to come, and that the world community will be thankful for in the centuries ahead.

How will the UAE write this story?

By launching a mission to Mars, the UAE could give that turning point that the Arab world today so badly needs.

It was only last month when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister and the Vice President of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled the plans of the Mars Mission. And although we are in 2015, the mission seeks to put the UAE on Mars in 2021, just six years from now.

This is to be done with the expertise of more than 150 Emirati scientists by 2020; currently 75 are working on it. The team will work towards creating mankind’s first integrated model of the Martian atmosphere. The mission will also help understand how the planet Earth will evolve millions of years from now, apart from other findings.

The data that will be collected through this ambitious project will be shared with more than 200 universities and research institutes worldwide, freely, for the benefit of space science.

So far so good, but how could a Mars Mission be a ray of hope for the Arab region?

At first glance, the Mars Mission seems all about space and scientific explorations. But dig a little deeper, the mission does not just have the potential to become a treasure house of scientific knowledge but could give a “big push forward to the Arab world’’.

This can be better explained through Sheikh Mohammed’s own words.

Talking about the significance of the mission, he said, “The first message is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play that role again.

“The second message is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible, and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge.

“The third message is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions and you can reach even to space.”

These three messages hold great significance.

At a time when the Arab region is a picture of extremism and bloodshed, when there’s so much confusion and lack of direction among youths, when the situation seems to be going centuries backward, the UAE Mars Mission, with its powerful messages, could be a game changer.

In the journey ahead from where the Mars Mission will have been accomplished, the story, that the UAE wishes to write, could begin.

How?

When the phase that will follow the mission, will begin instilling greater confidence, sense of responsibility and knowledge in Arabs, making them aware of greater potentialities, the chapters on hope, positivity, faith, knowledge, peace, and all that’s bright would start being written.

Now fast forward some years from now and the story of the Arab world could read like this…

Majid and Sheikha have just returned from school. As residents of one of the smallest villages of Egypt, they are excited to meet their friends for an educational camp, organised by the schools.

Meanwhile in Jordan, Aminah and Mohammed, a happily married couple, and both sportspersons, are sweating out in a field preparing for the upcoming Olympics…

Meanwhile somewhere in Europe… Fatimah, a young Arab woman, is being awarded for her groundbreaking contributions in the field of Neuroscience…
 

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