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Sarah Al-Amiri, President of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, one of the most influential women in the world

When Sarah Al-Amiri was just a child fascinated by space in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, her country, seemed light years away from reaching for the stars. At 34, she is now minister and oversees the “Mars mission” of the wealthy Gulf State.

The country is asserting its technological ambitions, particularly in the space sector. He launched the “Hope” probe (hope, in French) which is to go into orbit around Mars on Tuesday.

As a little girl, Sarah Al-Amiri was captivated by the images of“stars, solar systems, planets, so many objects that exist there and that we cannot understand”. “But also the means by which scientists explore them, be it telescopes, spaceships or radio images”, tells AFP the one who became Minister of State for Advanced Technologies and President of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency.

Back then, Abu Dhabi and the neighboring emirate of Dubai were not the modern, skyscraper metropolises they have become today. After rapid development, the oil-rich country sent its first astronaut into space in 2019, and last year launched the “Hope” probe with the mission of unraveling the secrets of time on the red planet.

Sarah Al-Amiri was the deputy head of this project, the first interplanetary mission to an Arab country.

A computer engineering graduate from the American University of Sharjah, a neighboring emirate of Dubai, she came to the field of space during an interview at the Mohamed ben Rached Space Center in Dubai in 2009.

“I stumbled upon it by accident. I applied, but it was just in case he needed engineers.”, she says. The center, which was then only three years old, was still kept secret.

Sarah Al-Amiri began her new career on Dubai’s Sat-1, the Emirates’ first Earth observation satellite, then quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the key actors in the Mars mission. Appointed Minister in 2017, in August she became President of the country’s Space Agency. The BBC ranked her among the 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world in 2020.

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