Abu Dhabi: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is a beacon of inspiration for the country’s young generation, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, said at the Abu Dhabi edition of ‘A Call from Space’ event on Thursday.
The live interactive session with the ‘Sultan of Space’ from the International Space Station (ISS) was organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in partnership with the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The event was attended by a diverse audience, including students, government officials, and space enthusiasts, eager to engage in a real-time interaction with the UAE’s proud representative in space.
Expressing his thoughts to Al Neyadi, Sheikh Nahyan said: “We are incredibly proud of you, Sultan. Your accomplishments have ignited a beacon of inspiration for our younger generations. There is no doubt that this experience will create opportunities and open scientific horizons for the Arab youth. Your mission not only serves as a catalyst for a growing interest in science and technology but also as a compelling call to engage with the intriguing field of space science.”
He further added: “Our nation remains steadfast in its pursuit of excellence in science and future-centric industries, fulfilling the dreams of our late founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Space exploration and the advancement of scientific research encapsulate our national vision and embodies our commitment to serving humanity.”
Dream turns into reality
“Indeed, this is a dream transformed into reality, made possible by the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. His consistent advocacy for fostering a culture of scientific exploration and innovation, along with the creation of opportunities for young aspirants like yourself, has been a guiding force. Our youth, nurtured on the core values of love, goodness, mutual respect, and harmonious coexistence with diverse cultures and beliefs, stand poised to carry forward this legacy of exploration and innovation.”
Responding with heartfelt appreciation, Al Neyadi expressed, “Thank you, Your Excellency, for your kind words. You have been, and still are, one of the biggest advocates of culture and tolerance in the UAE and the Arab world. Our nation is making big strides in all fields. Our presence on the ISS stands as a powerful testament to the fact that nothing is impossible. This ethos is the motto of our beloved country, and with the support of our wise leadership and the aspirations of our youth, we will continue to achieve more accomplishments.”
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Sultan’s father Saif Al Neyadi attending the event in person was a surprise element for the 42-year-old astronaut at the Abu Dhabi edition. Saif Al Neyadi expressed his happiness at attending the event and conveyed greetings from his family. He further added that they were all proud of the achievements Sultan is making in space.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman, MBRSC said, “We are deeply grateful to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for gracing this pivotal event with his esteemed presence. His support significantly bolsters the growth of the space sector in the UAE and echoes across the Arab world. Sultan’s accomplishments in space and his journey represents our nation’s aspirations and its relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation in space exploration, while also inspiring a new generation to look up to space and contemplate its endless possibilities.”
Salem Humaid AlMarri, director general, MBRSC said: “We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for gracing this event. We also thank Louvre Abu Dhabi for their continued support and collaboration. This series of conversations with Sultan has been an incredibly inspiring journey for all of us. Sultan’s mission has significantly elevated the interest in space, science, and technology among the youth of the UAE. His endeavours are stimulating curiosity and ambition, planting the seeds for the future astronauts, scientists, and innovators of our nation.”
Manuel Rabaté, director, Louvre Abu Dhabi said, “It is truly an honour for Louvre Abu Dhabi to be chosen as the venue for ‘A Call from Space’ with Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi. This is an extraordinary moment that speaks volumes of the importance of engaging with young and curious minds, inspiring them to make a profound impact on our world and beyond, and that is precisely what we aspire to do with Picturing the Cosmos exhibition. In collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, UAE Space Agency and the partnership of Mubadala, we are able to deliver an awe-inspiring exhibition that showcases the limitless wonders of the cosmos and builds a bridge between the museum, art history, science and the UAE’s vision of space exploration.”
Close to 300 people attended the event at Louvre Abu Dhabi and was captivated by Al Neyadi’s inspiring interactions, providing a wealth of information and comprehensive insights into his mission, celebrated as the longest Arab space mission in history. Responding to various queries, Al Neyadi discussed about the importance of the suit he wore during the spacewalk, the effect of the microgravity environment on his body, and how he maintains his immunity on the ISS, among others.
Sixth month in space
The current mission, marking Al Neyadi’s sixth month in space, has achieved numerous firsts for an Arab astronaut, such as conducting a spacewalk, performing scientific experiments, and more. As the ‘A Call from Space’ series nears its conclusion, it has granted close to 10,000 attendees the unique opportunity to connect with Al Neyadi, gaining a profound understanding of his mission, life aboard the ISS, and space exploration in general.
The MBRSC-Louvre Abu Dhabi collaboration extends beyond ‘A Call from Space’, with the recent announcement of a partnership for the interactive exhibition, ‘Picturing the Cosmos’, which is currently on display at the museum. The exhibition seeks to inspire children through a compelling adventure exploring celestial space through its artistic representations across time and cultures.
The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.