The imminent Hope Probe mission to Mars wll be the subject under discussion on Saturday 11 July 2020 19:30 GST with H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State and Dr. Farouk El-Baz, NASA space scientist and geologist. They will be joined live from Kagoshima, Japan by Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

The speakers will assess what space exploration has taught mankind, and what life-changing advancement we can expect from  the project, which is placing the UAE at the forefront of scientific discovery. Dr. Farouk El-Baz is an Egyptian American space scientist and geologist. He worked with NASA in the scientific exploration of the moon and the planning of the Apollo programme and played a key role in the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Mission, as well as the later five Apollo missions. The session will be moderated by Salem AlMarri,  Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector, MBRSC. He heads the UAE Astronaut Programme, and oversees the MBRSC’s expansion into new scientific and technical fields alongside ensuring continuing developments in the space sector.

H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh said that the Hope Probe mission is a real leap forward in space exploration. “Almost every sector of human progress has benefited from sending people into space, from the development of portable computers, camera phones and Nike Air trainers to CAT scans and research into our health. Eight centuries ago, Arab inventors and intellectuals were right at the forefront of scientific discovery. This mission places UAE as one of the world leaders in space exploration, which will be a wonderful inspiration to the young men and women of the UAE when considering their roles in the future.  It should provide a major incentive for young Arab scientists to embark on a career in space engineering.”

Dr. Farouk El-Baz is a member of the Advisory Council of Distinguished Scientists and Technologists to the President of Egypt. A leading geologist on the Apollo programme, responsible for studying the geology of the moon for the selection of landing sites of the Apollo mission, he was also responsible for the training of the astronauts in lunar observations and photography. After Apollo ended he joined the Smithsonian Institution and came up with the idea of a touchable moon rock at the National Air and Space Museum, inspired by his childhood pilgrimage to Mecca where he touched the Black Stone (which in Islam is believed to be sent down from the heavens). He later established and for over thirty-years directed the Center for Remote Sensing at the reputed Boston University in the USA.

The debate is the latest event in the Literary Conversations Across Borders series which uses a digital platform to host Emirati writers and commentators in live discussions with high profile experts from around the world on a variety of critical topics.

The inaugural event of Literary Conversations Across Borders saw more than 3,500 people from 46 countries register and able to tune in to the live event which also featured H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh in a debate with Indian politician Shashi Tharoor on how the events of 2020 will change the course of history.

Other sessions included H.E. Omar Ghobash and journalist Lesley Hazleton  as they  debated the impact of the pandemic on faith and belief systems, and celebrated environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall and H. E. Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mheiri Minister of State for Food Security on how the pandemic might influence global food supply challenges and the natural world. The series also incuded an international poetry exchange featuring the UAE’s Afra Atiq, Colombian American  Carlos Andrés Gómez , and British Ethiopian Lemn Sissay, while Christina Lamb, award winning journalist from the Sunday Times, considered how news reporting has changed in the last ten years  with UAE political commentator Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.

The Literary Conversations Across Borders project is a new initiative to promote international cultural understanding through the power of books and words  launched by the UAE Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy and the Emirates Literature Foundation.

There are eight sessions in this first Literary Conversations Across Borders series. Further details and more authors will be announced shortly.

The sessions are free to watch but pre-registration is required at

After the event the session will be hosted on the Emirates Literature Foundation YouTube channel. Full details on the upcoming programme will be available on the OPCD and Emirates Literature Foundation websites.

Source: Four Communications