Emirati youth celebrate as UAE astronaut Hazzaa returns from space
Dubai - Spacecraft carrying Hazzaa touched down in Kazakhstan at exactly 2.59pm (UAE time) on Thursday.
People of all ages and nationalities across the UAE rejoiced in unison as Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori made a successful touchdown at 2.59pm (UAE time) on Thursday.
At the viewing party at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, cousins Sultan Al Nakbi, 17; Salem Al Nakbi, 17, who traveled all the way from Fujairah, said they could not contain their emotion after seeing Hazzaa land safely back on Earth at Zhezqazghan town in Kazakhstan.
Wearing kandura and the same casual headgear (called hamdaniya) Hazzaa recently donned in the International Space Station, the Emirati duo told Khaleej Times: "Hazzaa has carried the UAE flag up in space and we, Emirati youth, are so proud that he has paved the way for us to dream big and reach for stars. Hazzaa, with huge support from the government, has put our country in the illustrious league of space nations."
Everyone at MBRSC was glued on the screens and some are taking to social media to record every moment of Hazzaa's return, after eight days of doing scientific experiments in ISS.
Another inspired youth is 18-year-old Emirati student Abdullah Husain. An aspiring astronaut himself, Abdullah has been traveling over 300kms daily (around two hours each way) from his home in Abu Dhabi to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai to follow Hazzaa's routine aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Abdullah was at the MBRSC when Hazzaa blasted off into space on Wednesday and he was among the first to ask questions when Hazzaa made his first video call on Friday.
Donning a gray jacket emblazoned with logos of NASA and MBRSC and the UAE flags, Abdullah said he has found close affinity with Hazzaa. "He is an inspiration to us, young Emiratis, that nothing is impossible," Abdullah shared.
"Hazzaa has realised Zayed's dream. From the rich tradition of our Bedouin forefathers, Hazzaa is now paving the way for us to reach for the stars," added the young Emirati who is planning to study aerospace engineering in the UK next year.
If Hazzaa is the first Emirati man in Space, Alia Al Qemzi, 12 and Oosha Al Falasi, 12, meanwhile, would like to become the first female Emirati astronauts.
They said they have closely followed and taken seriously every advice Hazzaa has given how to become a successful astronaut.
"We have set our sights and our dreams are clear - we want to become astronauts and fill in Hazzaa's shoes someday," the cousins said in unison.
Meanwhile, students at Dubai Rehabilitation Centre have called Hazzaa their personal hero. "We want to invite Hazzaa to visit our school on his return to the UAE," said Emirati student of determination Mohammed Al Mullah.