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 The latest debate in the ‘Literary Conversations Across Borders’ series

 The latest debate in the ‘Literary Conversations Across Borders’ series

Making that giant leap for humankind – The Hope Probe mission to the Red Planet

Live digital session with H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State and Dr. Farouk El-Baz, NASA space scientist and geologist

Moderated live from Japan by Salem AlMarri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC

United Arab Emirates –  1 July 2020:  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.

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 opcd.ae and Emirates Literature Foundation elfdubai.org websites.

His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh is Minister of State for Public and Cultural Diplomacy at MOFAIC and has been active in government service since 1968, in many key positions including interpreter and advisor to the Presidents of the United Arab Emirates. He is currently a Minister of State in the UAE Government and has also served as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation at the Foreign Ministry and Cultural Advisor at the UAE Presidential Court.

He helped establish the Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi and has served on its Administrative Council since 2006. In 2018 he was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is heavily involved UAE culture and has held key positions in the Sheikh Zayed Award, International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Abu Dhabi Classics and Al Ain Music Festival. His many awards include the Abu Dhabi Award, Cultural Diplomat of the Year, the European Academy of Science and Arts Ring of Tolerance, the Golden Medal of Arts from the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Personality of the Year Award. He was elected this year as Member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Farouk El-Baz is an Egyptian American NASA space scientist and geologist, and member of the Advisory Council of Distinguished Scientists and Technologists to the President of Egypt.

He worked with NASA in the scientific exploration of the moon and the planning of the Apollo programme. He was a leading geologist on the program, responsible for studying the geology of the moon for the selection of landing sites of the Apollo mission. He was further responsible for the training of the astronauts in lunar observations and photography. He played a key role in the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Mission, as well as the later five Apollo missions. 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.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Geological Society of America, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Science, and U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Salem AlMarri is Assistant Director General for Science and Technology Sector, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. 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.

Al Marri wields over fifteen years of experience, and was an integral part of the team that set up the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) which then became MBRSC in 2006.

For his achievements as the first project manager of the UAE satellite Dubaisat-1 and Dubaisat-2, Al Marri received the UAE Pioneers Award in 2014. He has represented the UAE and the MBRSC through presentations and papers in over 50 international conferences worldwide, and has been a returning member of the delegation to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

About the Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD)

The Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD) is a coordinating entity that supports the objectives of United Arab Emirates diplomatic missions around the world through arts and culture programming, research and content design. OPCD is dedicated to promoting UAE heritage and values and facilitating cross-cultural dialogue in the service of improved global cooperation and international prosperity.

About the Emirates Literature Foundation:

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures a love of literature in the United Arab Emirates and the region, through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.

Established in 2013 by Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Foundation aims to foster a love for literature, with a focus on the Arabic language.

In line with the National Reading Policy of the UAE, the Foundation has implemented several long-term projects including the School Librarian of the Year Award and the annual Arabic Language Week, as well as conducting year-round student education programmes, book clubs and creative writing courses. The Foundation’s previous initiatives included the 2016 Dubai Translation Conference and the 2017 Dubai International Publishing Conference, which hosted a number of international participants.

The Foundation is also the governing body of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the UAE’s premier literary festival, which will be held 2– 6 February, 2021.

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