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Screen grab of a video shared by UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi showing a stunning ‘space tour’ of the Arabian Peninsula from the International Space Station (ISS) Image Credit: MBRSC/Twitter

Dubai: UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is on the longest Arab space mission, has given a stunning ‘space tour’ of the Arabian Peninsula from the International Space Station (ISS) to his followers back on Earth.

Taking to social media, Al Neyadi shared a video that lasted for over four and a half minutes to show the beautiful daylight views of the region as seen from the orbital laboratory as it flew over at 27,000km/h.

“From Iraq to Muscat, let me take you on a tour of the Arabian Peninsula in the morning from space,” Al Neyadi wrote in the post.

While the entire video shot by the Najmonaut (Arab astronaut) was in Arabic, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) reposted it with English subtitles.

Al Neyadi began the video showing a map displaying the location of the microgravity space station over the region while passing over the Arabian Peninsula and said: “It’s morning and there is nothing better than starting the day by admiring our country.”

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Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi gets a haircut from astronaut Frank Rubio aboard the ISS Image Credit: Twitter

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Opening Cupola windows

He then pans the camera to show his position inside the Cupola, the observatory module of the ISS. Al Neyadi then says he would open the windows of the Cupola “to share these beautiful views with you.”

He describes that there are seven windows for the Cupola, one large central window, surrounded by six smaller ones. How Al Neyadi is capturing the visuals with a huge professional camera can be seen from his reflection while he opens the windows.

“As you can see the view is stunning,” he says.

“Today, we will try to cover most of the Gulf region’s cities,” he said as the camera points to a vast swathe of desert surrounded by the sea.

“Zooming in, I think we can see Riyadh,” he says and pans the camera to add “we can now see Iraq and Kuwait.”

Moving on, he spots Bahrain with its capital Manama and Qatar with its capital Doha.

Dearly missing UAE

“And this is my nation, the UAE,” Al Neyadi says proudly and moves to another window to show a clearer view. He explains that the Cygnus cargo spacecraft was covering the view and opens another window. “This is the Empty Quarter (Rub’ Al Khali) desert,” he says as the video shows the desert with patches of white clouds over it.

Moving on, Al Neyadi says: “This is Liwa, the hometown of my colleague Hazzaa Al Mansoori (the first Emirati astronaut to go to the ISS in 2019 and the backup Al Neyadi on this mission).

Panning across the country to show its majestic daylight views from the space, Al Neyadi says: “We can see the UAE and the capital Abu Dhabi, followed by Dubai and its iconic Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and the other emirates.”

His visual space tour ends with a view of Muscat. “As you saw, that was a quick tour over the Gulf countries. We crossed the Arabian Peninsula in a few minutes as the ISS orbits at a speed of 27,000km/h and it is very quick.”

“This morning, I wanted to share these special moments with you as we passed over my country which I dearly miss, and saw its terrain and beautiful views,” he adds. Al Neyadi signs off saying “thank you for watching and stay tuned for more videos.”

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Screen grab of a video shared by UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi showing a stunning ‘space tour’ of the Arabian Peninsula from the International Space Station (ISS) Image Credit: MBRSC twitter

Favourite activity

Getting behind the lens for Earth observation and capturing breathtaking sights that can only be witnessed from space has been one of his favourite activities on board the ISS ever since Al Neyadi docked into the orbital station on March 3. The images that he captured from the Cupola of the ISS earlier include some stunning visuals of the UAE, Egypt and Sahara Desert.

When he shared the night visuals of Egypt, paying tributes to the country on March 28, Al Neyadi posted: “The words of Late Sheikh Zayed, “Egypt’s renaissance is a renaissance for all Arabs,” remain just as powerful and relevant today as when they were first spoken. His enduring love for Egypt has seeped into the heart of Emiratis nation- wide. As I gaze down from space on this land, I extend my greetings to Egypt and its warm people.”

Shifting cargo

Meanwhile, NASA said Al Neyadi on Wednesday continued to help pack a US space freighter with cargo ahead of its departure and return to Earth later this month. According to NASA, the Emirati flight engineer joined his colleague NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to load the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft with completed science experiments and used station hardware for retrieval and analysis by scientists and engineers on the ground.

The Dragon had docked to the orbiting lab on March 16 packed with 6,200 pounds of research gear, crew supplies, and other cargo to replenish the station crew.

On Thursday, ISS witnessed Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin taking a short trip inside the Soyuz MS-23 to relocate the spacecraft from one docking port of the orbital outpost to another.

The spacecraft undocked from the Poisk module on the space-facing side of the space station complex at 4.45am (12.45pm GST). It then flew around to redock to the Prichal module on the Earth-facing side of the outpost at 5.22am (1.22pm GST).