Arab envoys express support for Lebanon, say it is stable

Lebanon’s culture minister, Mohamed Daoud, toured the city of Aley accompanied by several Arab ambassadors. (NNA photo)
Updated 11 July 2019

Arab envoys express support for Lebanon, say it is stable

  • Karin said: “Lebanon is a country of coexistence, happiness and life and it will remain this way

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Culture Minister Mohamed Daoud toured the city of Aley accompanied by several Arab ambassadors.
The visit, aimed at promoting tourism in the region, included UAE Ambassador Hamad Saeed Al-Shamsi, Algeria’s Ambassador Ahmed Bouziane, Mohammed Karin (Morocco), Karim Boudali (Tunisia), Ambassador Nazih Al-Najari (Egypt), Badr bin Mohammad Al-Mantheri (Oman) and the charge d’affaires of the Saudi Embassy, Majed Abu Al-Ula.
Aley witnessed a security incident two weeks ago between protesters rejecting the visit of the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, and the bodyguards of Minister Saleh Al-Gharib. The events led to the deaths of two of Al-Gharib’s bodyguards and the injury of two others.
Daoud thanked the ambassadors for their presence: “We came here with one message to say that despite recent painful events, Lebanon will always remain a country of tourism. We rely heavily on our tourism season. These events will never affect Lebanon’s authenticity, generosity, hospitality and tourism. Lebanon is always proud of its Arab roots and is very happy about the ambassadors’ presence here, which reflects their countries’ embrace of Lebanon.”
Al-Shamsi said: “Lebanon is very well thanks to its people and its Arab brothers. Lebanon is doing better than many other countries surrounding us. Our support will never stop. Lebanon has an Arab identity and we remain keen to support Lebanon’s legitimacy.”

“Lebanon is the country of Arabism, culture and tourism.” Majed Abu Al-Ula

                               Charge d’affaires of the Saudi Embassy

Karin said: “Lebanon is a country of coexistence, happiness and life and it will remain this way. Our presence reflects our confidence in Lebanon and its message of openness and tolerance. By visiting Lebanon, Arab citizens are contributing to its legacy as an example of coexistence. We have a group of Moroccan tourists here as well as participants in scientific, cultural and intellectual forums.”
Al-Najari urged Egyptians to “intensify their visits to Lebanon because it is stable despite some limited incidents.”
Boudali said: “Lebanon is the face of civilization, culture and openness. Our visit is an open invitation to all Arab tourists to come to Lebanon.”
Al-Mantheri said: “Lebanon is secure and stable,” and called on Arab citizens to visit.
Al-Ula added that “Lebanon is the country of Arabism, culture and tourism. The Kingdom lifted the warning sent to prevent the arrival of Saudis to Lebanon. We clearly see that it is now secure and stable.”

Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

Updated 20 July 2019

Emirati astronaut prepares to join elite Arab space club

  • Hazza Al-Mansoori 'living a dream' as he and backup astronaut train for space mission in September
  • Soyuz-MS 15 launch could be the beginning of a bold new era of Arab exploration of space

DUBAI: More than 30 years after an Arab first journeyed into space, an  Emirati is preparing to become the latest Arab space traveler when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) in September.

For months, Hazza Al-Mansoori and backup pilot Sultan Al-Neyadi have been undergoing intensive training in Russia, Germany and the US to prepare for the mission. The first Emirati to travel into space will make the historic journey on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.

During the eight-day mission, he will conduct a tour of the ISS for Arabic viewers on Earth and carry out 15 experiments for the Science in Space schools competition conducted by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

The crew, who will include an American and a Russian, are allowed to take up to 1 kg of personal items with them on the mission.

“I will take my family photo and share the experience of being in space with them,” Al-Mansoori said. There will also be an image of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father, meeting American astronauts in 1976.

“I am also going to take an Emirati flag. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.”

‘I will take an Emirati flag into space. I am living my dream and want to give something back to my country.’

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori

Al-Mansoori will join an elite space club comprising Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman and Syria’s Muhammed Faris. Prince Sultan became the first Arab to travel to space as part of space shuttle Discovery’s crew in 1985. Faris was a crew member of USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987.

The Emirati astronaut is aware that history is resting on his shoulders. Speaking to the media recently during his training program in Houston, Al-Mansoori  said it is a huge personal honor to be the first Emirati chosen for space exploration.

“I’m excited about the whole mission, but especially to experience the microgravity and be living in the ISS, and conducting daily experiments and working with the amazing group on board,” he said.

Al-Mansoori and Al-Neyadi have been undergoing rigorous training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program includes familiarization with NASA equipment on board the space station, and handling emergency situations, such as ammonia gas leaks and depressurization.

The Emiratis have been trained to fend for themselves if the return goes off course and they land in the wilderness of Russia.

Speaking of the Soyuz-MS 15 mission, Yousuf Al-Shaibani, director general of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, said: “We strive to see the UAE Astronaut Program achieve its objective of preparing generations of Emiratis who will contribute to enhancing the country’s position in space science and research to serve the ambitious aspirations aimed at building a national knowledge-based economy.”

The September launch could prove to be the beginning of a bold new era for Arabs and space. Al-Neyadi, the backup pilot, has been promised a seat on a future mission, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia are drawing up ambitious plans for the development of the region’s space industry.