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.


Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

Updated 08 July 2020

Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

  • More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan
  • Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10

CAIRO: Hundreds of Egyptians who had been stranded overseas because of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Egypt on Wednesday as the country reopened its airports, which have been closed for three months.

More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan. The latter came through the Qastal border crossing, which reopened last month after Sudan closed its border in March.

Mustafa Abul-Magd, director general of preventive medicine in Aswan, said that COVID-19 tests were conducted at the quarantine location at the crossing, and that none of the returnees had tested positive.

Meanwhile, Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10. Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Muhammad Manar Enabah had previously announced that national carrier EgyptAir and Air Cairo would be providing 315 flights to return 57,000 Egyptians stranded abroad. The Egyptian Embassy in Germany has also announced the resumption of flights between the two countries, meaning Egyptian expats there can also return home.

Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram thanked all Arab countries for their support of Egyptian workers abroad during the COVID-19 crisis, and stressed that the whole country has worked to repatriate all Egyptians who wanted to return. “The Egyptian citizen is now prioritized in the country. The state has managed to deal with the anxieties of Egyptians abroad,” Makram said.

Journalist Hassan Al-Rashidi told Arab News that Egypt — with the help of several other countries — has “proven that it never forgets its citizens, even in times of crisis.”
Al-Rashidi added that the suspension of flights had had a major impact on tourism, which plays a huge role in Egypt’s economy. He said the resumption of flights would see many tourism jobs reinstated.