First Published: 2017-12-06

UAE launches first space programme to train astronauts
Aspiring Emirati astronauts who apply will go through rigorous vetting procedure, with finalists given months of specialised training.
Middle East Online

Only a handful of states in the Middle East have sent a person into space.

DUBAI - Dubai's ruler on Wednesday launched the United Arab Emirates' first space programme aimed at sending four Emirati astronauts to the International Space Station within five years.

"On this day, a new chapter in our history begins with the launch of the first UAE Astronaut Programme," within the next five years, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum, the UAE's vice president and prime minister, said in a statement.

"The people of the UAE will break barriers," he said.

The oil-rich Gulf nation has already announced ambitious plans to become the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021, naming it "Hope".

The astronaut programme would make it one of only a handful of states in the Middle East to have sent a person into space as it looks to make good on a pledge "to become global leader in space exploration over the next 50 years".

The first Arab in outer space was Saudi Arabia's Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, who flew on a US shuttle mission in 1985. Two years later, Syrian air force pilot Muhammed Faris spent a week aboard the ex-Soviet Union's Mir space station.

Aspiring Emirati astronauts who apply for the programme will go through a rigorous vetting procedure, with finalists given months of specialised training before the last four are selected.

In the long-term, the UAE says it is planning to build a "Science City" to replicate life on Mars and aims to create the first human settlement on the red planet by 2117.

 

More strikes hit E. Ghouta as UN delays truce vote

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Egypt presidential race starts with Sisi likely to win

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Blatter supports Morocco bid for 2026 World Cup

Turkey says US embassy Jerusalem opening in May 'extremely worrying'

Lebanon says both suspects in Kuwait murder of Filipina maid held

38 dead in Mogadishu car bombings

Morocco police arrests prominent newspaper publisher

Syria regime continues to pound Ghouta as world stutters

UN rights commission wants S.Sudan war crimes charges

Iran grounds airline's ATR planes after crash

Turkey summons Dutch diplomat over Armenian 'genocide' vote

Turkey navy threatens to engage Italian drillship near Cyprus

Iran police shoving headscarf protester sparks social media storm

UN Security Council to vote Friday on Syria ceasefire

Dubai says Djibouti illegally seized African port

Dutch parliament recognises 1915 Armenian massacre as genocide

Heavily bombarded Eastern Ghouta awaits UN resolution

Russia says Syria rebels rejected offer to evacuate E. Ghouta

UN diplomats press for Syria ceasefire without Russia veto

Iranian minister’s presence at UN rights meeting angers critics

Iran warns it will leave nuke deal if banks cannot do business

Qatar to plant thousands of trees to ‘beautify’ World Cup venues

Pro-Kurdish party says Turkey lying about 'no civilian deaths' in Afrin

African migrants protest Israeli detention policy

Egypt sentences 21 to death for planning attacks

Israeli handball teams in Qatar spark furious outcry from locals

UN report highlights S.Sudan journalist treatment

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea

African migrants start hunger strike over Israel expulsion

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

Three militiamen killed in Libya car bomb attack

Russia denies ‘groundless’ accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers