Twitteratis go gaga as Saudi sets sights on Mars

Updated 03 September 2013

Twitteratis go gaga as Saudi sets sights on Mars

A 36-year-old Saudi man has signed up for the one-way trip to the red planet, where there is no water or air. Abdullah Al-Zahrani hopes to be selected for the flight scheduled for 2023 and live in a space colony for the rest of his life.
The mission, organized through the Dutch-based venture Mars One project, stopped receiving applications earlier this week following a 5-month registration period.
Al-Zahrani is among over 165,000 space enthusiasts who have signed up to join the Mars One project. The aspiring “Martians” come from over 140 countries, mostly from the US, China, Brazil, India, Russia, Britain, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the Philippines.
In his public registration video posted in English on the Mars One project, Al-Zahrani said that bringing about change for humanity is one of the goals he has always wanted to achieve, citing his experience as an ex-military pilot and the fact that he has been a medical student since 2008. His interest in living on Mars is also driven by his interest in technology and aeronautical engineering, he said in the video.
The Mars One project will choose only 40 candidates, who will go through specialized training for over eight years, including medical and technical skills for survival purposes. Only four of them will be sent to Mars in 2023 on a one-way trip, with more scheduled for future trips. Al-Zahrani has called on his audience to vote for him to make it through to the national and international selection process, in which the applicants show evidence of their suitability to live on Mars.
There is no turning back once the selected candidates step into the rocket and there is no return journey no matter what happens, said Bas Lansdrop, a Dutch entrepreneur who dreamed up the scheme last year after viewing the income stream of the London Olympics.
Al-Zahrani’s dream of landing on Mars was received with awe and excitement by Saudis on Twitter, who created a special hashtag to support him. The active hashtag, created one day ago, receives over 30 tweets a minute on average, a figure that shows the growing public interest in his bid for setting foot on Mars.
Abdullah Algaissi tweeted: “There is so much to discover about the universe. I not only hope that he goes to Mars but comes back with much more knowledge about it.”
The Mars One mission plan consists of cargo missions and unmanned preparation of a habitable settlement in 2021, followed by human landings beginning in 2023, which Al-Zahrani dreams to achieve.
A demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars in the coming years. These missions will set up the outpost where the human crew will live and work.
The mission design takes into account the expansion of the human colony, where a new crew will arrive every two years.


Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 15 September 2019

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Saudi Aramco says no staff have been injured in attacks
  • The oil giant is working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.