Of the three spacecraft “racing” to Mars, the Emirates’ Hope probe was the first to reach the Red Planet on 9 February. It was followed by China’s Tianwen-1 one day later and the US’ Perseverance (scheduled to happen today). Hope left Earth from Japan in July 2020 and had to make a special maneuver in order to be captured by Mars’ gravity. The risky process was successful and the crowd was over the moon. Hope will orbit the planet for at least one Martian year — 687 days — with a mission to study weather events.

Such a historical moment had to be marked somehow: Public monuments, buildings, and heritage sites across the federation manifested their enthusiasm. For example, the Burj Khalifa turned into a bright “hourglass,” counting down to the big moment.

Another event saw two mysterious moons appearing in Dubai during the first week of February. The portrayed phenomenon — which raised suspicions amongst the public — was, in fact, a representation of Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos — something that’s probably in Hope’s line of sight. Behind this astronomical wonder stands MullenLowe Dubai, which created it to drive people’s awareness around the UAE’s arrival on Mars.

Double Moon, courtesy of MullenLowe MENA

Sure, such initiatives entertained the locals. But the UAE wanted to shout out about this significant milestone in their history and encourage the rest of the world to embrace this achievement of theirs. As such, TBWA\RAAD agency in partnership with the UAE Government Media Office and Dubai Airports decided to welcome travelers with an ink “carrying” a little bit of Mars in its DNA upon arrival.

“To commemorate this historic occasion and celebrate the mission’s incredible victory with the rest of the world, we have created a special stamp printed with ‘Martian Ink’ — made of basalt rocks found in the deserts of the UAE. This will be embossed on the passports of all the visitors to the UAE arriving at this time for a limited period,” said Khaled Al Shehhi, Executive Director of Production and Digital Communication Sector, UAE Government Media Office.

Visitors who arrived at the UAE airports on 9 February had their passports stamped with the Martian Ink. The stamp carries the image of the Hope probe orbiting Mars, all outlined in red. The stamp marks a new era for Arabs in time and space. Travelers were greeted with the “You’ve arrived in the Emirates. The Emirates is arriving at Mars on 09.02.2021” message.

The limited-edition ink is not actually from the Red Planet. It was born out of volcanic basalt rocks — found during a special expedition to the UAE’s Fujairah Mountains and Sharjah’s Mleiha Desert — which give the mountain ranges here a distinctly rugged look. These minerals share the same properties as those found on Mars and, once collected, they were crushed into a fine paste, dried in the sun, and combined with adhesives to form three different colors that represent Mars.


Client: UAE Government Media Office

Executive Director Marketing & Communications: Khaled AlShehhi

Social Media Manager: Latifa AlMarzooqi

Social Media Executive: Ghaya AlBannay

Editor: Sherouk Maher, Hana Shafeek


Chief Creative Officer: Walid Kanaan

Executive Creative Officer: Bruno Bomediano

Creative Director, Copywriter: Alex Pineda

Art Director: Osama Siddiq

Motion Designer: Zeina Abuzaid

Designer: Juliana Arboleda

English copywriter: Maian Alken

Corporate Communications Director: Romy Abdelnour