Making an Impact
Sarah Al Amiri knows the importance of diversity in science. She assembled a team that consisted of 80% women to help the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a nation of fewer than 10 million people, join the ultra-exclusive Mars exploration club.
On March 28, Al Amiri accepted her TIME 100 Impact Award at the Museum of the Future, in Dubai. She said that by “ensuring that diversity becomes a norm” and “acknowledging that our differences bring about great innovation,” people will be able to “harness the creativity within us all, driving true impact.”
Al Amiri is now the head of the UAE Space Agency. She made history last year as the youngest lead scientist to help send a spacecraft to Mars. The UAE Space Agency is only the fifth space program to reach the Red Planet’s orbit. The spacecraft—dubbed Al-Amal, or “Hope”—has been studying the Martian atmosphere and sending back troves of data and discoveries to further the world’s space-exploration efforts.
During her speech, Al Amiri reflected on the importance of seeing other women in leadership positions. She also reflected on the potential of young people as “designers of the future.” In addition to serving as chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, she’s also the UAE’s minister of state for advanced technology. In that role, Al Amiri has used her platform to become a strong advocate for gender representation and equality in the rapidly developing science and tech sector.
Al Amiri also spoke about catching up with her role model, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the first woman in the history of the UAE to assume a cabinet position. “She was what I aspired to be, and a trailblazer in her field,” Amiri told the audience.
This story was originally published in TIME on March 28, 2022.