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Saudi prince’s journey into space

Saudi prince’s journey into space
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Updated 02 May 2020

Saudi prince’s journey into space

Saudi prince’s journey into space

Prince Sultan’s NASA mission inspired a generation of Arabs, including UAE astronaut Hazza Al-Mansouri

Summary

On June 17, 1985, history was made when the NASA shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its fifth mission, carrying the first Arab, Muslim and royal astronaut — and, along with him, the seeds of a new era of Arab space exploration.

Royal Saudi Air Force pilot Prince Sultan bin Salman, 28, the son of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, spent seven days conducting experiments in space as part of an international crew of seven.
During Discovery’s voyage, Prince Sultan also monitored the deployment of Arabsat-1B, the second satellite to be launched by the pan-Arab organization, designed to boost telephone and television communication between Arab nations.

After the space shuttle touched down at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Prince Sultan, having inspired a generation of Arabs to turn their eyes toward the stars, returned to a hero’s welcome in Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab world.

UAE SPACE AGENCY: The history of the Arab world in astronomy dates back to the 9th century, when Arabs were renowned for their work during the Islamic Golden Age. During this time, the House of Wisdom, which supported astronomical research, was established in Baghdad by the Abbasid caliph, Al-Ma’mun.

Arabs and Muslims have a great legacy in astronomy, with a large number of astronomical works available to date.

In the late 8th century, Muhammad Al-Fazari was the first astronomer to build an astrolabe as an aid to finding the qibla; in the 9th century, Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi developed the book “Zij Al-Sindhind,” which contains tables for the movements of the sun, moon and planets; and in the 11th century, Omar Khayyam documented the most accurate year length.

Long after the Islamic Golden Age, Arabs have reclaimed their tradition in astronomy, reviving the space sector in the region.

On June 17,1985, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman became the first Arab and Muslim to travel to space, spending seven days in orbit and helping to deploy a satellite for Arabsat with NASA. The prince served as a great inspiration, making a mark in the region and the entire world.

‘Prince Sultan bin Salman, now orbiting the Earth aboard Discovery, said today he was doing 'just great.' The view of Earth is 'fantastic,' he remarked.

From a story on Arab News’ front page, June 18, 1985

Prince Sultan’s experience had a great impact on the UAE, in particular, a country that has demonstrated a strong commitment to space since the time of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan in the 1970s. Then, the visionary Sheikh Zayed met three astronauts from the Apollo 17 mission team: Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt. Sheikh Zayed played a key role in driving the

UAE’s interest in space and emphasized the importance of exploring space for the benefit of humanity.

In 1988, Sheikh Zayed met with Prince Sultan following his return from space, and asked about the smallest details of the prince’s journey. Sheikh Zayed saw incredible potential in exploring space and also had a far-sighted vision of the UAE’s capabilities in the space sector. The UAE, proud of Sheikh Zayed’s avant-garde thinking, embraced his vision of exploring space.

Sheikh Zayed’s vision and Prince Sultan’s historical milestone were the stepping stones for driving the UAE and the region’s enthusiasm in exploring space. Since then, the UAE has been working on ambitious space projects, establishing a leading position for the region within the global space sector.

The UAE has made major achievements in the space sector, which include establishing the UAE astronaut program, launching 10 satellites, signing more than 30 agreements to support the space sector, and attracting investments worth $6 billion in the space economy.

Key Dates


  • 1

    Prince Sultan and his Saudi Air Force backup, Major Abdul Al-Mohsin Hamad Al-Bassam, arrive in the US to begin intensive training for the space shuttle mission.

    Timeline Image April 1, 1985


  • 2

    Prince Sultan blasts off from Cape Canaveral on board the Discovery, becoming the first Arab in space.


  • 3

    Discovery’s crew deploys the Arabsat-1B satellite.


  • 4

    After orbiting Earth 111 times and traveling more than 4.6 million km, Discovery lands at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

    Timeline Image June 24, 1985


  • 5

    Syrian Muhammed Faris becomes the second Arab in space, flying to the Soviet Mir space station.


  • 6

    Prince Sultan is appointed chair of the new Saudi Space Commission.

    Timeline Image Dec. 27, 2018


  • 7

    Emirati Hazza Al-Mansouri carries the UAE flag to the International Space Station on an eight-day mission, becoming the third Arab astronaut in space and the first Arab astronaut to set foot on the International Space Station.

    Timeline Image Sept. 25, 2019


  • 8

    Scheduled date of the launch of the UAE Space Agency’s Mission Hope probe to Mars, the first step toward a planned human colonization of the Red Planet by 2117.

Among the UAE’s great milestones was the launch of the first Emirati astronaut into space. Hazza Al-Mansouri traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) in September 2019, carrying out experiments and inspiring UAE youth to become future space pioneers.

Al-Mansouri’s passion for space and desire to pave the way for future generations to explore it was brought on by Prince Sultan. As a young student, the future astronaut saw a photo of Prince Sultan, the first Arab in space, in his fourth grade schoolbook — a turning point in his life.

Since then, Al-Mansouri pursued his dream of exploring space. He was not only the first Emirati and third Arab to travel into space, but also the first Arab to make the journey to the ISS. His mission came 30 years after the launch of Syrian Mohammed Faris into space in 1987, and 32 years after Prince Sultan traveled to space in 1985.

Al-Mansouri was selected as part of the UAE astronaut program, which is developing a national team of astronauts to take part in scientific and manned space missions. In its first round, the program received more than 4,000 applicants, highlighting the passion of the UAE’s youth for the space sector.

As a young student, Al-Mansouri saw a photo of Prince Sultan, the first Arab astronaut, in his fourth-grade schoolbook, which was a turning point in his life.

Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al-Ahbabi, Director General, UAE Space Agency

The second round of the program has also gained interest among people from different backgrounds and various age ranges, with the youngest applicant just 17, while the oldest is 60.
Following the success of Arab astronauts, the UAE is continuing its work to enhance the Arab world’s leading position in space, and is planning to launch the Emirates Mars mission this year to help gain a better understanding of Earth and its atmosphere.

As part of its efforts to encourage collaboration among Arab countries and enhance the Arab world’s contribution to the global space sector, the UAE has launched the Arab Space Cooperation Group to consolidate Arab capabilities in the space industry, and enhance the region’s contribution to science research and development.




A page from the Arab News archive showing the news on June 18, 1985.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia share a mutual interest in the space sector and an eagerness to share knowledge and experience. Recently, the UAE Space Agency signed an agreement with the Saudi Space Commission, chaired by Prince Sultan to further cooperation in space activities for peaceful purposes, building technical and scientific capabilities, and exchanging knowledge and expertise.

Following Prince Sultan’s footsteps in space is essential for driving innovation, raising people’s awareness of the space sector, and inspiring youth to follow the same path — a key to having more Arabs join the world’s best astronauts.

  • Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al-Ahbabi is Director General of the UAE Space Agency and played a key role in its establishment. He recalls watching Prince Sultan’s mission on TV and says: ‘We all look up to Prince Sultan as a result of his achievements, and we look forward to following the journeys of our new talented and ambitious Arab space explorers.


Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
Updated 23 min 7 sec ago

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
  • Turkey’s Karadeniz supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Karadeniz, which supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges, told Beirut to halt action by the Lebanese prosecutor to seize its vessels and said it must draw up a plan to settle arrears to avoid a cut in supplies, a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson for Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz that operates floating power plants, was speaking on Tuesday after Lebanon’s Finance Ministry cited a lawmaker saying the country had been threatened with a cut to its supplies.
A Lebanese prosecutor issued a decision last week to seize the barges and fine the firm after TV channel Al-Jadeed reported corruption allegations tied to the power contract. The firm denies the charges and says it has not been paid for 18 months.


Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday

Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday
Updated 38 min 10 sec ago

Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday

Sweden reports 13,812 new COVID-19 cases, 44 deaths since Friday
  • Sweden of 10 million inhabitants registered 44 new deaths, taking the total to 14,217
  • The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks

STOCKHOLM: Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 13,812 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed on Tuesday.
The figure compared with 14,950 cases during the corresponding period last week.
The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 44 new deaths, taking the total to 14,217.
The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.
Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbors’ but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns.


Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
Updated 43 min 5 sec ago

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
  • Revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551million

RIYADH: Suez Canal revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551 million compared to a year earlier, Asharq Business reported, citing Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie.
Rabie also discussed plans to expand and deepen the southern sector of the canal in which the container ship Ever Given was stuck in March, creating chaos across the global supply chain.
That incident which brought a large proportion of seaborne trade to a near halt for a week, highlighted the need to ensure the  smooth operation of the key trade artery.
Rabie also revealed plans for dredging works for the maintenance of the navigational channel of the canal.
A plan is being implemented to restructure the authority’s companies, he said.
This year witnessed a slight increase in the number of ships passing through the waterway to 1,840 in April 2021 from 1,731 in April 2020, Al Arabiya reported.


Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup

US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)
US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)
Updated 11 May 2021

Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup

US author Tayari Jones is set to take part in the event. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: Renowned US fantasy author Brent Weeks, US author Tayari Jones, Emirati writer Eman Alyousuf and Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai are all set to participate at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the 30th edition of ADIBF will see the participation of more than 800 exhibitors from 46 countries around the world, and will comprise more than 104 virtual and physical sessions.

Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: “Despite the challenges we have faced in the wake of the pandemic, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is committed to ramping up its efforts to support the publishing industry and to promote cross-cultural dialogue. We are proud to host this event which reinforces our position as one of the most prominent intellectual and literary forums in region, and gives us the opportunity to highlight Arab literary output while simultaneously celebrating the pioneers of arts and culture from across the world.”

As part of its cultural programme, the fair will feature the artistic and literary works of authors and artists from multiple fields. Among those will be American author Tayari Jones, considered one of the most important writers of her generation, who will hold a session to discuss her latest work. In another session, the fantasy great Weeks will talk about the importance of science fiction novels in transporting readers away from the monotony of their daily lives. Providing a regional perspective, Kuwait’s Alrefai will participate in a dialogue with Emirati writer Alyousuf, to discuss how the pandemic has encouraged reading.

British television presenter and historian Bettany Hughes will join a conversation about the impact of plagues and pandemics on civilisations, while Emirati writer Sultan Al-Amimi will speak about with the importance of short stories and their role in enhancing literary diversity. .


Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
Updated 34 min 24 sec ago

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
  • The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent of the total labor force in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The new data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reflects the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter, representing a decrease of 2.3 percent, Al Arabiya reported.
The labor force in urban areas reached 13,034 million, with 16,250 million living in rural areas.
Gehan Saleh, economic affairs adviser to Egypt’s prime minister said in April that the second stage of the country’s economic reform program would be launched soon.
She said the plan aims to improve the quality of life of citizens and tackle unemployment through job-creating investments.