With the announcement today of the selection of the second batch of Emirati astronauts, the UAE is rewriting the scientific history of the Arab region and proving that its entry into the space sector was not a coincidence or some type of propaganda.
In a new step that translates to the UAE's relentless pursuit towards global leadership in the field of space exploration, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the names of the two new Emirati astronauts, who will form the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme, and further revealed that it includes the first female Arab astronaut Nora AlMatrooshi.
The national space sector was born on solid ground and according to a carefully thought out plan and a clear forward-looking vision that aims to make the UAE a major contributor to the space sector, whose membership is currently limited to a few countries.
The national space sector has an investments portfolio that exceeded AED22 billion in just a few years, which is not a small number compared to the date of the establishment of the UAE Space Agency in 2014, which proves the strength of this programme from the moment of its birth.
Just as the UAE was distinguished by setting an Arab precedent in this sector at the end of the first fifty years of its founding, with the arrival of the first Arab astronaut at the International Space Station.Today, the second fifty years begins with a distinctive step by announcing the selection of the first Arab female astronaut, which is a new addition to a record of accomplishments by Emirati women.
What is noteworthy in this announcement is the huge number of applicants from the nation’s scientifically qualified men and women, which exceeded 4,300 applicants, and confirms the great success in the output of the scientific and educational system in the country, as well as the faith of the nation’s youth in this national programme, which enjoys the support of the wise leadership.
There is no doubt that the Emirati step represented by the joining of the two new astronauts - Nora AlMatrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla to astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi - consolidates the position of the country and the Arab presence in the field of space exploration, a step blessed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, by saying, "Today we announce two new Emirati astronauts. We congratulate the country on them. We congratulate them and count on them to raise the name of the UAE ever higher in space."
The ambitious Emirati space programme is progressing at a firm pace, according to a thoughtful plan based on a vision aimed at empowering national cadres and qualifying them with knowledge and scientific expertise to lead this sector.
Through its national space programme, especially after the success of the Hope Probe in its mission to Mars, the UAE relies on strengthening its position scientifically and globally, and on contributing to the global scientific movement for a better future for humanity.
The future missions of Emirati female and male astronauts bolster the UAE's vision for the next fifty years, as it is a real bet on science and youth within an integrated system, through which it continues to write a new scientific history for the Arab region and build a solid national knowledge base led by young people armed with science and knowledge.
Today, the UAE is proving once again its correct and strategic vision for the future, based on science and empowering talents and those with expertise, and that what we spend today on knowledge is not only for the immediate future, but also for the distant future.
Mohammed Jalal Al Rayssi is the Director-General of the Emirates News Agency (WAM)