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Mohamed Nass - Dubai - The UAE government thanked the media bodies and institutions in the nation, for the distinguished coverage on the successful launch of The Emirates Mars Mission – Hope Probe. It is the first interplanetary mission undertaken by any Arab nation.
All local, regional, and international media platforms were keen to provide distinct coverage of the most prominent historical event in the UAE’s march towards scientific and space excellence.
This came during an extensive media meeting organised by the UAE Media Office attended by local editors-in-chief of various news outlets and TV stations. In addition, media office officials, local, regional, and international reporters, along with bloggers, influencers, and social media channels were also in attendance.
The launch of the Hope Probe topped trending charts across all social media channels. The intergalactic event received an overwhelming response and garnered the engagement of hundreds of thousands of followers and traction across all major Arab and international media outlets.
The media coverage continued to increase significantly over the past three months prior to the launch across traditional and digital media channels, peaking at the start of July 2020, two weeks ahead of the scheduled date of the Probe’s launch.
The comprehensive coverage for the Hope Probe included press announcements, news reports, and interviews with the scientific team behind the remarkable project and offered insights on diverse aspects of the mission. This was achieved in close coordination with the UAE Media Office, serving as the overall umbrella in arranging the coverage, conducting follow ups, compiling reports, and ensuring the seamless and precise delivery of a unified message for media outlets within and outside the nation. The UAE Media Office also liaised with relevant entities and organizations to guarantee that media organisations within the UAE remained up to date with the latest developments in the run-up to the launch.
Furthermore, although the Hope Probe was the first project of such mega dimensions to be undertaken by the UAE Media Office, it initiated a series of effective social media campaigns, especially in the three months prior to the launch that were critical to steering the conversation.
For three months from the Probe’s arrival in Japan in April 2020, until the historic date of its launch – on July 20, 2020 - more than 1.5 billion people closely followed the media coverage – locally, regionally, and internationally – reading, watching, and engaging in conversations in various languages across channels, including newspapers, magazines, websites, and broadcast media. The live coverage of the launch also received exceptional traction across the world.
Among the media outlets that covered the Hope Probe’s journey and the team of Emirati engineers behind it were Nature, National Geographic, Science, The Economist, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, the Spanish daily newspaper El País, and Germany’s Der Spiegel.
In addition, the team was interviewed on international television channels, such as the BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle, and Sky News, as well as global news agencies including Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters.
The media coverage peaked on the day of the launch, July 20, with hundreds of articles in prominent newspapers and global news websites in the first 12 hours following the launch, until the ground space station welcomed the Probe’s first message. The news of the successful launch topped several global news sites and platforms such as The New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN International, Financial Times, Space.com, and National Geographic, in addition to major television networks, such as BBC World News, Sky News, ABC Australia, Euronews, and Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland’s national television and radio broadcaster.
Since the Probe’s arrival in April at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan to prepare for final tests ahead of the launch, the growing coverage from Arab and international media outlets was compounded by the Probe’s journey across land, sea and air before reaching its launch station. The journey was able to overcome multiple logistical challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences that led to a halt in the global transportation movement.
In the first two weeks of July prior to the launch, about 2,700 original press materials on the Hope Probe were monitored, including press releases, articles, investigative reports and stories across Arab and international newspapers, websites, and social media platforms. These materials, representing diverse media outlets, and chosen as a sample to explore the audiences’ interests, achieved 516 million views, according to a survey conducted by the UAE Media Office, in cooperation with research and survey centers.
These materials highlighted different aspects of the Emirates Mars Mission, EMM, such as the stages in which the Probe was built, the project’s team of Emirati engineers, the UAE’s growing interest in space science and technologies over the past decade, the country’s pioneering regional position in the space industry, and the first Emirati astronaut, and the third in the Arab world, to join the International Space Station.
Coverage of the Hope Probe across international media channels, especially in the US and Europe, was significant and comprehensive over the past three months. This coverage included more than 865 original stories that were directly published in print and digital newspapers, websites and news channels, in addition to being redistributed and shared thousands of times on other websites, ultimately garnering millions of views and interactions.
Until the Probe’s launch, the UAE Media Office monitored more than 450 op-eds and features that were directly published about the Emirates Mars Mission on widely popular media outlets. Over 250 interviews with the Probe’s core team members featured in leading print and digital scientific journals and newspapers globally.
In the two-week run-up to the launch, media coverage of the Hope Probe made up 60 percent of the content across local platforms and channels, including print, digital, visual, and social media. The coverage secured across news and social media platforms continued to surge, reaching 75 percent in the week prior to the launch, with the lion’s share belonging to social media and interactive digital platforms. Leading the list of highest engagements was Twitter, followed by Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. Local engagement on these platforms exceeded 90 percent on the day of the launch, reaching 95 percent in the hour scheduled for launch, and 97 percent in the first 12 hours post-launch, when compared to other local conversation topics.
Amid the growing media momentum, in conjunction with the final preparations for the launch of the Hope Probe, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also launched the Arab Space Pioneers Programme, the first of its kind at the level of the Arab world to nurture talented Arabs in the UAE through equipping them to take advantage of career opportunities that the space sector is set to provide in the future.
Supervised by the UAE Space Agency, the Arab Space Pioneers Programme will run for three years to provide specialised training in space science and technology to the highest scientific standards, along with a three-year covered residence cost in the UAE. Moreover, the programme will provide educational grants and financial incentives, with an opportunity for the participants to contribute to building advanced satellites in the UAE and to participate in several projects and programs related to the UAE’s space sector. Within just two weeks of its launch, the programme received 37,000 applications from across the Arab world.
As part of the Emirates Mars Mission, the Nation Brand Office of the UAE launched its Mars Shot campaign, the largest digital campaign of its kind to make impossible dreams come true in cooperation with international star Kevin Hart. People from all over the world are invited to share their big dreams on the Mars Shot Instagram account through recording and posting a minute-long video in which they describe their dream, why they want to achieve it, and the scope of change it may bring about in their life and the lives of people around them.
The Mars Shot campaign reflects the UAE’s authentic identity, as a country that has limitless aspirations and dreams and where nothing is impossible, with the dream of reaching Mars serving as the latest example. The Mars Shot campaign is inspired by the historic UAE journey to Mars, helping to achieve the most daring and ambitious dreams for the greater good of humanity. The three most daring dreams with the potential to make a positive impact in people's lives will be selected to enable the UAE to work on realizing them in cooperation with Kevin Hart. To date, the campaign has attracted over 45,000 followers on Instagram.
In terms of interaction on social media platforms that form the basis of modern digital media, the videos attracted more than 680 million views and interactions on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter worldwide during the last three months before the Hope Probe’s launch. Their content was developed by prominent stars and influencers in the Arab region and the world, as part of a motivational campaign for the UAE Mars journey. More than half of this number was recorded during the last two weeks in the run up to the launch and the first 12 hours after the launch. These videos aimed to highlight the mission’s prospects and role in putting the Arab world back on the map of scientific achievement.
These videos included the #FirstArabicCountdown campaign. While the actual countdown began with the Hope Probe’s arrival in Japan in April, followed by preparations and simulation tests for its launch in July, this campaign was launched in the UAE on various social media platforms to evoke feelings of pride in the Arab world around an authentic Arab achievement. Throughout the history of space missions, the countdown has occurred in English, Russian or French. With the first Arab space mission (Hope Probe), Arab nations had the opportunity to participate in the first countdown in Arabic, mobilizing momentum through various social media platforms as the launch of the Probe commenced.
Several prominent Arab and world figures, including stars, artists, TV hosts and media influencers were invited to participate in the first countdown in Arabic, counting down the 10 most exciting seconds in the history of the Arab world and highlighting the global support received by the inspiring Emirates Mars Mission.
In addition, many Arab and European ambassadors in the UAE took part in the campaign, posting Arabic countdown videos on their social media accounts as messages of support and motivation. Hundreds of people across the world also posted videos in which they counted down in Arabic amid feelings of excitement.
The Hope Probe started its journey to Mars on July 20, at 01:58am UAE time, aboard the H2A launch rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, where it received commands from the ground control station at Al Khawaneej in Dubai.
The first broadcast signal at 03:10am, commanded the Hope Probe to commence its historic journey to Mars. The Hope Probe is expected to take seven months and travel 493 million km, to reach the Martian orbit in February 2021 - coinciding with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
The launch of the Hope Probe marks a historic turning point in the UAE’s development journey, and ushers in a new era of scientific and technological excellence in the UAE and the Arab world. The launch consolidates the UAE's reputation as the most advanced country in the region in space science and the space sector. This mission will provide the first comprehensive pictures of the Red Planet’s atmosphere, an unprecedented scientific mission, considering that most of the previous Mars missions sought to understand Mars’ terrain, studying its rocks and analyzing the soil layers. The UAE’s mission seeks to explore the climate on Mars.
The Hope Probe will monitor the climatic conditions on the Red Planet throughout the year, during the day and across different seasons. In addition, it aims to study the relationship between the current Martian climate and its past, to better understand planet Earth’s own climate change issues.
The Hope Probe will collect data on Mars and transmit it to a scientific data center in the United Arab Emirates through a number of receiving ground stations around the world. The UAE plans to freely share the findings with various research centers and institutes around the world, to further benefit humankind.
As a national scientific and strategic initiative that is the largest of its kind in the history of the UAE, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the UAE’s project to explore Mars in 2014 and the country’s aim to be the first Arab country to send a space exploration mission to the Red Planet. The UAE Space Agency is responsible for overseeing the project, while the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center managed the design, development and implementation.
The Emirates Mars Mission aims to develop human capital in the nation through preparing trained national scientific and research cadres, and promoting a culture of innovation, leadership and scientific excellence in the UAE. It also seeks to motivate youth to develop an interest in STEM studies to help advance the UAE’s efforts in the field of scientific exploration.
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