After two delays due to bad weather, the Amal (Hope) Probe was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre just before 11pm Sunday, UK time.
Around an hour after its launch, the probe deployed solar panels for its communication and other systems as it sped towards Mars at an average speed of more than 75,000mph.
The Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200m (£155.8m), according to minister for advanced sciences Sarah Amiri. It aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.
It is also aimed at advancing the UAE’s science and technology sector, enabling it to move away from its economic reliance on oil.
Omran Sharaf, project director of Emirates Mars Mission, said about an hour-and-a-half after the lift-off that the probe was sending signals.
The journey to Mars will take seven months before the probe orbits the planet and sends back data.
The UAE, which has a population of around 9.4 million, announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched its National Space Programme three years later.
Hazza al Mansouri became the first Emirati in space when he flew to the International Space Station in September.
UAE has also put three Earth observation satellites into orbit – two developed by South Korea and launched by Russia and the third was developed by the UAE and launched by Japan.
Mr Sharaf said the Mars mission “sends a very strong message to the Arab youth that if the UAE is able to reach Mars in less than 50 years, they could do much more”.