Meanwhile, the command and control centre at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) - which spearheaded the Mars project on which some 450 people worked, more than half of them Emirati - was abuzz with excitement.
Originally scheduled to blast off on 15 July at 2.21 am IST, a revised launch date was announced for Friday, 17 July at 2.13 am IST which was also postponed.
The orbiter is expected to reach its destination in February 2021, and is scheduled to spend at least two years circling the Red Planet.
A successful mission to Mars would be a major step for the oil-dependent economy seeking a future in space, coming less than a year after the launch of the first UAE astronaut, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. It was carried into space by an "H2A" rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan.
"What is unique about this mission is that for the first time the scientific community around the world will have an holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day at different seasons", Sharaf told a pre-launch briefing.
The world's tallest building shone brightly with the mission badge ahead of the 1.58am UAE time launch. There's a high-resolution camera known as the Emirates eXploration Imager, a UV imager known as the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer, and a scanning infrared imager dubbed the Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer.
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A newcomer in space development, the UAE has so far successfully launched three observation satellites, but has not gone beyond the Earth's orbit.
The UAE has become the fifth country to send a mission to Mars after the US, Russia, ESA and India.
The UAE Mars mission's deputy project manager, Sarah al-Amiri, said it was "an indescribable feeling" to witness the rocket launch. The Emirates have also pledged to build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117.
Resource-poor Japan has traditionally kept friendly ties with Middle Eastern countries.
Two other Mars missions are planned in the coming days by the US and China. The U.S. plans to send a rover named Perseverance to search for signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for return to Earth.
There are now eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. This launch is set for around July 23. Japan has its own Martian moon mission planned for 2024.