Sultan Al Neyadi showed us what lies beyond the stars in the desert night sky

“I know exactly what I want to do when I grow up: I want to be a rocket engineer!“said my niece Mahra, 12, as she watched a video clip of Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi being lifted from SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on September 4, returning to Earth after a six-month mission in space. International Station (ISS).

Becoming a space engineer or working in a space-related job was never a career prospect I had thought about as an Emirati. It seemed as far away as space!

However, today a space has been opened for us to reach and explore thanks to the vision and ambition of our leadership. It was a sign when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, said: “We have expanded the horizons of our future generations in space,” upon the return of astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri. to Earth, after his eight-day stay on the ISS in 2019. A few years later, the United Arab Emirates sent its second astronaut on the longest Arab space mission in history.

Knowing what you want to become at this early stage in life is something I find interesting and inspiring. I had no idea what I wanted to do until I was in college and had to choose a major that would decide my future. Being able to inspire enthusiastic young Emiratis and draw their attention to a whole new horizon is amazing and an achievement in itself.

Incredible feeling of pride

We watched from home as Sultan embarked on his journey, dressed in a pressure suit, to the ISS. And as she said goodbye to her family and his children, she felt an incredible sense of pride as she watched one of us, an Emirati, head into space again, this time for a longer mission that carried the dreams and hopes of her nation. .

The day Sultan left, each of us felt like another member of his family, the young people excited and proud, the older ones praying for his safety. Our elderly neighbor, Um Ali, was visiting that day and watched with us. He remembered the times when they would look at the stars and wonder what could be beyond that desert sky.

She said: “I always wondered what is beyond the sky. It was a curiosity. “I’m happy to see it now once Sultan arrives and shows us what’s there.”

Sultan did not disappoint her or anyone else.

He took us all on a space trip.

His time in space was the most exciting and engaging due to his regular posts and videos about life in space. He kept everyone interested and eager to learn more and more as the days went by. In fact, he put a different “spin” on ordinary coverage of a space mission.

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi reveals what he wants to do first when he returns to Earth from the International Space Station
Image credit: screenshot

Their posts varied between sharing photos of different cities with interesting, sometimes moving captions, as the ISS passed over them. It had something for everyone, from American and Brazilian cities to Arab cities and capitals, the Gulf countries to Singapore and Japan. Sultan made sure we got a glimpse of several international cities and how they appeared from space. He embodied the UAE values ​​of peace, humanity, coexistence and respect.

In his first appearance at a NASA press conference after his return to Earth, Sultan said that sharing everything he did, talking to students and engaging with people through his captures of Earth was a great part of its mission.

heroic return

The day of Sultan’s arrival on Earth after six months was not just any day. The anxiety of waiting for his safe landing kept us glued to the live coverage on our phones as we headed to the office that morning. I could see people in nearby cars watching the historic arrival. It was the feeling that a family member returns after a long time, but not from just any place, from space, and not from just any return, but from a return that can at least be called heroic.

As he was taken out of the spaceship, everyone around me cheered and said “Al Hamdulilah”, “Praise God”. I felt very proud and lucky to be able to witness this moment live.

The trust our leadership always places in its youth makes it a mission for all of us to achieve even more.

As the United Arab Emirates celebrates the return of a hero, we are witnessing a historic moment, one that is here to last and is the beginning of more inspirations to come.

You made us proud, Sultan. Welcome home!

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