Ground controllers at the UAE’s space centre in Dubai rose to their feet and cheered as the unmanned spacecraft named Amal, Arabic for hope, closed in on the planet to send detailed data about its atmosphere and climate.
The United Arab Emirates’ first mission to Mars has entered the red planet’s orbit after a seven-month, 494 million kilometres journey, allowing it to start sending data about the Martian atmosphere and climate.
“The Emirates Mars Mission has… inspired the nation to look to the future and look to the skies,” Amiri said.
34-year-old Sarah-al-Amiri is a government minister and one of the drivers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambitious project behind the “Amal” probe.
Born in 1987, Amiri is now the Emirati Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, chair of the UAE Space Agency and the United Arab Emirates Council of Scientists, and Deputy Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission.
Amiri was always interested in aerospace engineering but grew up at a time when United Arab Emirates did not have a space program.
She studied computer science at the American University of Sharjah, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“It was a deep fascination into how these objects and computers worked. How they were built. How they were designed. How the hardware operates with the software,” she told AFP news agency.
She began her career at the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology, where she worked on DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2. Later Amiri joined the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment before taking on a senior role at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
In 2016 she was appointed as head of the Emirates Science Council.
She was an invited speaker at the 2016 World Economic Forum.
In October 2017 Amiri was named Minister of State for Advanced Sciences in the United Arab Emirates Cabinet.
In November 2017 Amiri became the first Emirati to speak at an international TED event when she spoke about the Hope Mars Mission in Louisiana.
Watch her speech:
Amiri was on the list of the BBC’s 100 Women (BBC) announced on 23 November 2020.
Amiri is now also a mother of two, including an 11-year-old boy who is an avid “Star Wars” fan.