Anatoly Ivanishin: Seen from space, only the two holy cities stand out



RIYADH: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO

Published — Saturday 10 November 2012

Last update 11 November 2012 9:03 pm

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The four Russian astronauts who came to visit the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) told Saudi students that while taking a picture of some beautiful cities from outer space, the brightest and beautiful cities he saw were Makkah and Madinah, specifically the spots in the centers of the two holy cities. These astronauts came as part of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) program during their 25th Assembly in Riyadh this week.
“When you are in outer space, we take photos during the day for good visibility and shot, but at night it is difficult to take pictures because you have to use a special technique. In spite of this, I managed to take many pictures of various cities at night. I was amazed to find that the cities of Makkah and Madinah outshone other cities around the world,” observed astronaut Anatoly Ivanishin during an interaction with the students.
The astronauts were hosted at the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) by the PSSO’s Supervisor General Khalid Abdul Gader Taher, who briefed his guests on the activities of the oasis.
Ivanishin said that other cities do not look bright at night but the view of Makkah and Madinah from outer space was a breathtaking and unprecedented spectacle.
The four Russian astronauts who visited the oasis are Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and their interpreter Boris Meshcherykov.
PSSO is a nonprofit organization charged with developing an interactive science center. Through the science center and associated activities, PSSO aims to improve public awareness of science and to promote scientific knowledge and its practical applications in terms of promoting peace and how this knowledge can benefit mankind as a whole.
Oasis seeks to inspire people with the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge and technology in ways that respect cultural diversity and freedom. PSSO is affiliated to Riyadh Philanthropic Society for Science, a nonprofit organization headed by Crown Prince Salman. An executive council for PSSO was established to supervise and guide the development of this project and provide the necessary support at both private and government levels.
This council is headed by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and founding member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the host of the 25 the association assembly.
In his welcoming note, the mayor of Madinah said : "You are not Russians, you are earthlings, I am not a Saudi man, I am an earthling and we are brothers in the service of humanity. You people are so blessed because out of seven billion people on Earth you were able to go to space and understand the universe around you."
"This is the difference, you see the big picture. I am not blessed as you but I am trying to see the picture, you see the big picture through your hearts and through your eyes. I only see the picture from my heart. You are blessed that's why when you say that you have that bright picture of Madinah you are showing me something very precious. You are going through the philosophy of life to make a difference in your research in medicine, helping communication, transportation and environment and so on " he added.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Taher told Arab News that the Russian astronaut’s observation was inspiring from a spiritual point of view. He said the noteworthy point was how, amid thousands of cities on the Earth, the brightest lights he saw from space were the ones coming from Makkah and Madinah.
“To me spiritually we understand that and we realize it. And I really wish and ask the Almighty Allah to help us that the light he saw up there as shiny for him will also be shiny for the rest of the world,” said the officia.
He said: “The visit of these astronauts means a lot for our country. We should really admire, respect and praise so highly the efforts of the Kingdom and Custodian of Two Holy Mosques for his vision and his continued work not only to serve his own people or the Muslims but the entire world. We see every day a new initiative,” he observed.
Taher also paid tribute to Prince Salman for his support for PSSO and his dedication to the cause of strengthening the Kingdom’s security and development. “Prince Sultan bin Salman himself has set a good example for the Saudi youth through his dedication, creativity and commitment. These people are coming to our country for the second time. The first time was when the association was launched. Prince Sultan as founding member maintains good relations with these renowned scientists and astronauts for the benefit of the younger generation in the Kingdom.”
He attributed the Kingdom’s progress to the long-term vision and far-sightedness of the Kingdom’s leadership. They have relied on the Islamic law to steer the country on the path of progress, modernity and prosperity without losing its cultural ethos.

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