On February 9, 2021, the UAE became the fifth country in the world to reach the Red Planet. At the helm of the history-making team of young Emirati engineers, scientists, data analysts and programmers who are directing the Emirates Mars Mission is a 37-year-old graduate from the University of Virginia, Omran Sharaf.
Under Sharaf’s leadership, the UAE’s Hope Probe—the Arab world’s first interplanetary spacecraft—is successfully orbiting Mars and collecting data on the planet’s atmosphere. The probe and wider UAE space program have inspired a new generation of young engineers in the Middle East to set their sights on the stars.
Omran’s space odyssey began when he was an engineering undergraduate in 2005. Fifteen years later, he’d once again learn and work alongside American colleagues from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Colorado Boulder to make the UAE’s dream of reaching Mars a reality.
The success of Omran’s Mars team represents the culmination of close partnership and knowledge transfer between the UAE and the United States.