UAE names first astronauts to go to space

Updated 04 Sep 2018

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DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has selected its first two astronauts to go on a mission to the International Space Station, Dubai’s ruler said on Monday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum named the new astronauts as Hazza al-Mansouri, 34, and 37-year-old Sultan al-Neyadi. Writing on Twitter, he said the duo “raise the bar of ambitions for future Emirati generations”.

Sheikh Mohammed, the UAE’s vice-president and prime minister, last year vowed to send four Emirati astronauts to the space station within five years. The UAE has its sights set on space with a programme worth 20 billion dirhams ($5.4 billion), according to Sheikh Mohammed.

The astronaut programme would make the UAE one of only a handful of states in the Middle East to have sent a person into space, as it looks to make good on a pledge to become a global leader in space exploration.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018