UAE’s first astronaut urges climate protection on Earth

UAE astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori reacts shortly after the landing of the Russian Soyuz MS-12 space capsule about 150 km south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan on October 3, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 November 2019

UAE’s first astronaut urges climate protection on Earth

  • Mansoori became the first Arab astronaut to visit the ISS and returned home to a hero’s welcome after an eight-day mission
  • “It is really difficult to live in space, we have to provide a lot of oxygen, air and food... and we have all of this here for free,” he said

DUBAI: Wearing a blue space suit with a UAE flag on one sleeve and a spaceship on the other, the first Emirati astronaut said Tuesday his mission highlighted a crucial issue — climate change.
Witnessing Earth and its beauty from space made him realize the importance of preserving it, said Hazzaa Al-Mansoori, a 35-year-old former military pilot who reached the International Space Station in September.
“We have to appreciate the planet and make sure that we save it for the next generations,” said the father-of-four, urging efforts to address “the reasons behind climate change.”
Mansoori became the first Arab astronaut to visit the ISS and returned home to a hero’s welcome after an eight-day mission, during which he participated in scientific experiments including a time-perception study.
His space trip has become a source of great pride in the UAE, a newcomer with ambitions to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021.
In a Dubai hall swarming with journalists, Mansoori recounted the magic of his trip.
“When you see our planet from space... it’s really something amazing and a spectacular view,” he said. “I spent a lot of time looking out that window, I didn’t even want to sleep.”
Mansoori said living in space showed him that life on Earth was “a blessing.”
“It is really difficult to live in space, we have to provide a lot of oxygen, air and food... and we have all of this here for free,” he said.
The five-year period ending 2019 is set to be the hottest ever, said a UN report published in September, scientists’ latest grim reminder that climate change is already a reality.
Last month was the hottest October ever recorded worldwide, according to data released by the European Union’s satellite monitoring service.
“We are lucky to live here — let us protect the Earth and its atmosphere,” said Mansoori.
On board the ISS, Mansoori, who was selected from more than 4,000 UAE candidates, donned Emirati dress and treated crew members to his country’s snacks.
He flew to the station after the UAE signed a contract with Russian space agency Roscosmos to make him a “spaceflight participant,” a term used for people from outside the main space agencies who take short trips to the ISS.
As part of its space plans, the UAE has announced its aim to become the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021, naming it “Hope.”
“It’s the golden age for space exploration in the UAE,” said Salem Al-Marri, of the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center.


Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

Updated 50 min 9 sec ago

Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

  • Attacks came just hours after Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters

BEIRUT: Attackers in northern Lebanon set fire to the offices of two major political parties on Sunday, the state-run National News Agency said.
The assaults came just hours after the capital Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters since nationwide demonstrations began two months ago. Lebanese security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and used water cannons throughout the night to disperse anti-government protesters from the city center — the epicenter of the protest movement in Beirut — and around parliament.
The overnight confrontations in Beirut left more than 130 people injured, according to the Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense.
In the northern Akkar district on Sunday, attackers broke the windows and torched the local office for resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s political party in the town of Kharibet Al-Jindi.
In a separate attack in Akkar district, assailants stormed the local office of the largest party in parliament, affiliated with President Michel Aoun and headed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Their party said the contents of the office in Jedidat Al-Juma town had also been smashed and burned.
Lebanon is facing one of its worst economic crises in decades, and the protesters accuse the ruling political class in place for three decades of mismanagement and corruption.
The violence comes a day before the president is due to hold talks with different parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister on Monday.
Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan on Sunday ordered an investigation into the clashes which she said injured both protesters and security forces. She said she watched the confrontations “with concern, sadness and shock.”
Al-Hassan blamed “infiltrators” for instigating the friction and called on the demonstrators to be wary of those who want to exploit their protests for political reasons. She didn’t elaborate.
Nationwide protests began on Oct. 17, and the government headed by Hariri resigned two weeks later.
Political parties have since been bickering over the shape and form of the new Cabinet. Protesters want a technocratic government, not affiliated with established political parties.
After weeks of back and forth, Hariri has emerged as the likely candidate for the job.