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UAE Astronaut, Sultan Al Neyadi (C), greets his father Saif Al Neyadi (R) and his children during a homecoming reception at the new Abu Dhabi international airport. Image Credit: UAE Presidential Court

Abu Dhabi: UAE leaders have hailed the return of Sultan Al Neyadi as a moment of national pride for the UAE. President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai spent time in conversation with Sultan Al Neyadi – accompanied by his father and three of his children – and discussed aspects of the mission and his experience during his time in space. They congratulated him for completing the longest-ever space flight by an Arab astronaut and becoming the first Arab to perform a spacewalk.

To mark the homecoming, a large reception ceremony was held at the new Abu Dhabi Airport terminal, celebrating Sultan Al Neyadi's accomplishments and his return to the UAE. The ceremony was attended by school children dressed in astronaut flight suits, government employees, and members of the public. Sultan was greeted by a performance of the traditional Al Ayyala dance and the audience waving UAE flags and applauding, demonstrating the depth of pride and celebration felt by the people of the nation.


Here is how we tracked Al Neyadi's journey back to Abu Dhabi from Houston, US, after two weeks of rehabilitation following his six-month stay in space.

Eyes on the Moon

During the press conference, it became clear that the Sultan of Space has set his eyes on the Moon next. Asked about his personal preference to go to the Moon, he said: “I see myself as an astronaut ready to go into any mission. Personally, I would love to go to the Moon and go to Mars if possible. I don't think it will happen sooner regarding Mars.”

He highlighted that the UAE has signed the Artemis Accords for the safe and peaceful exploration to the Moon. “This is the biggest step. We all know about the gateway,” he said referring to the Lunar Gateway, Nasa's planned space station that will orbit the Moon. The UAE is part of the Gateway.

“So I would love to go there. I would love to be part of it…It depends on the opportunity and suitability as well for the mission as well.”

But back on Earth tonight, his immediate priority is to catch a good night’s sleep after spending some quality time with his family, especially his children.

Al Neyadi answered several other questions pertaining to his mission and shared the insights he gained from his profound experience. He highlighted the importance of the experiments he conducted and the need to protect planet Earth and live peacefully.

Al Neyadi explains the phases of returning to Earth from the ISS

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed shares post on Al Neyadi’s return to UAE

Sultan arrives for press conference

Al Neyadi has just arrived for the press conference. He is accompanied by Salem Humaid Al Marri, director general of MBRSC, Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Saud Karmustaji, director of Strategic Communications at MBRSC. Media personnel welcomed him with a loud round of applause. A video showcasing special moments of Sultan’a mission was screened before he arrived at the press conference venue.

Doting father

The father-of-six is now seen carrying one of his children as he walked along the huge crowd celebrating his achievements.

Selfie time with Sultan

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Ali Essa, photographer who is always with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Many people who gathered to celebrate the achievements of the space hero also seized the opportunity of taking selfies with him.

Euphoric welcome to Sultan

Al Neyadi has been welcomed with a white garland and is receiving hugs, and handshakes all along from students and Emirati community members


Proud students wave UAE flags to receive the space hero who made the entire country proud of him.

Celebrations begin

Cheers and claps are heard as Sultan is received by students, officials and other invitees at a special area where a grand welcoming ceremony is being held. Arabic dances and songs are performed as the Sultan of Space is welcomed back.

Time for group pic

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Image Credit: X(formerly Twitter)/@MohamedBinZayed

The President and Vice-President posed for a group photo with Al Neyadi, his children and Hazzaa Al Mansoori and a large group of officials from MBRSC. Applauses followed as the leaders appreciated the great team work behind the grand success of Al Neyadi’s historic mission.

Leaders escort Sultan

In a heartwarming gesture both the leaders are seen escorting Sultan Al Neyadi as they left the VIP lounge where he was welcomed.

Centre of attraction

Sultan Al Neyadi is proudly seated between the two leaders during the grand reception organised at the Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A. He is now seen speaking to the leaders while his children and his father are seated next to them.

Several top officials from various departments are also attending the ceremony.

Leaders welcome Sultan

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Image Credit: X(formerly Twitter)/@MohamedBinZayed

President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai welcomed Al Neyadi on his arrival at the Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A.

The flag he presented to the President is the one he carried to the International Space Station. This is now a proud tradition for the UAE astronauts as the first Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori had also done the same on his arrival after an eight-day expedition to the ISS in 2019.

Emotional reunion

Sultan had an emotional reunion with some of his children and his father as soon as he got out of the plane. The father of six was seen hugging three of his kids tight while holding the little astronaut Suhail, the toy mascot of MBRSC, which he had carried with him during the mission.

Media awaits to hear from Al Neyadi

A large group of media personnel including Gulf News representatives are awaiting to hear from Al Neyadi after the official welcoming ceremony. He is expected to address the media along with Salem Humaid Al Marri, director general of MBRSC and Hazzaa Al Mansoori.

Sultan of Space is home

The special plane flying in Al Neyadi has landed in Abu Dhabi International Terminal A. He will be stepping out soon.

New airport terminal opens to welcome Sultan

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Image Credit: Afra Alnofeli, Visual Journalist

The UAE opened a new airport terminal in Abu Dhabi to welcome the space hero. Abu Dhabi International Terminal A, which is expected to be inaugurated later this year, had a special arrival on Monday.

The ‘Sultan of Space’ is being flown in from Houston to the new swanky terminal in an official plane sent by the UAE government.

The premises of Terminal A have been decked up with hoardings and large screens showing images of Al Neyadi and messages about his historic homecoming.

UAE space mission

Hundreds of people from different walks of life including students have been invited to attend the grand reception. The mood has been upbeat with attendees eagerly waiting for the arrival of their space hero. Many were seen taking group photos and selfies with Al Neyadi’s pictures on the display screens.

Arabic songs and drum beats resounded in the arrival lounge hours before Al Neyadi’s arrival. Various cultural programmes including traditional Emirati songs and dances are scheduled to welcome Al Neyadi.