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UAE to send its first astronauts into space

The two astronauts were selected after a rigorous vetting process [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 September, 2018

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Dubai's ruler has named two Emirati astronauts who will set off on a mission to the International Space Station.
Gulf state, the UAE, has selected its first two astronauts for a mission to the International Space Station, Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said on Monday.

Sheikh Mohammed named the new astronauts as Hazza al-Mansouri, 34, and 37-year-old Sultan al-Neyadi.

Mansouri and Neyadi, who were among more than 4,000 Emiratis to apply for the programme, were chosen after a rigorous six-stage vetting procedure.

Writing on Twitter, he said the duo "raise the bar of ambitions for future Emirati generations".

His announcements follow a pledge made last year
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 oil-rich Gulf nation has already announced plans to become the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021, naming it "Hope".

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.

The first Arab in outer space was Saudi Arabia's Sultan bin Salman al-Saud, who flew on a US shuttle mission in 1985. Two years later, Syrian air force pilot Mohammed Faris spent a week aboard the ex-Soviet Union's Mir space station.

In the long-term, the UAE says it is planning to build a "Science City" to replicate life on Mars and aims to create the first human settlement on the red planet by 2117.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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