This is the Year of the 50th, as they call it to celebrate the UAE having completed half a century as a country. And there’s so much reason for this young country to be proud. Just as we were getting ready to go to press, HE Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), tweeted: “We are proud of the announcement of the UAE’s new space mission, which will make us the first Arab country and the fourth country in the world to send a space mission to Venus and an asteroid belt.”
The UAE, especially Dubai, has been ramping up its space efforts just as quickly as the emirate has transformed things on the ground. When Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, was asked in a recent interview what the hurry was and why he urged speed in all matters, he asked: why not? He asked why he should not want his people to enjoy these things now, instead of waiting another 20 years.
We have also learnt this month that Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi have successfully completed their first year of training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
In parallel, Abdallah AlHammadi and Saleh AlAmeri, the two Emirati Crew One astronauts, are training as part of the Emirates space simulation project within the Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) 21/21 mission. Slated to begin in November, it simulates life in space over eight months at the Ground Experimental Complex of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow.
At the same time, seven students have been selected to join the first Arab Space Pioneers Programme, the first intensive scientific training programme of its kind in the Arab world. And alongside all this, the UAE Space Agency is urging its Arab neighbours to cooperate on space, signing partnerships in Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait and the like over the last few months.
The UAE is determined to be on top of the space race and keen to take its nationals along on this journey, creating the right ecosystem to build a robust knowledge economy. As we get ready to celebrate the country’s 50th anniversary in a month, we also look with pride at what this leadership has achieved because they have dared to dream big.