When Prachi Manghnani, a resident of Sharjah's city centre Rolla, awoke last Friday morning at around 5 am to check on her little daughter, she happened to look out of the long, 10-metre wide uncurtained window near her bed, ...

By Anupama V. Chand

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Published: Mon 12 Jul 2004, 10:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:46 AM

and suddenly stopped nonplussed. She couldn't believe her eyes or ears!

Prachi saw blinding beams of light coming towards her from the sky, which were preceded by strong tremors that she said made her too scared to do anything other than just sit on the edge of the bed and hold tight.

'I was petrified, the entire experience lasted about one minute and then the lights faded away, I ran to the balcony to look out and check whether the strange thing had left in its wake, and all I could see at that hour, were some vegetable vendors and passers by looking upwards as shocked as I was, I didn't know whom to report this event to so I didn't,' said Prachi, who called 'City Times' wondering if the newspapers had any more information about what she could have experienced.

Prachi averred that what she had seen was definitely not an aircraft or chopper, as she had been living in the area for over six years, and had never seen any instance of aircraft flying over the skies here.

'I think people might not want to come forward and admit to having seen such celestial happenings, for fear of being dismissed as crazy, or stupid. I was so scared, I thought it might be an earthquake,' said Prachi, a businesswoman, who hoped residents would have more information about whom to contact in such situations. Her most incredulous question about what she saw - Was it a UFO?

City Times spoke to Colonel Ali Al Sayed, former Chief of the Dubai Civil Defence, and Chairman of the Dubai Police Academy, who is an amateur astronomer in his own right, and someone who was himself witness to a strange celestial phenomena some two years ago. He is also someone who does not rule out the possibility of unidentified flying objects (UFO's) visiting the earth out of something more than curiosity!

'I was in Hatta, under a star-studded sky one June night, drinking ginger-tea with some eight friends, when suddenly we noticed a star in the distance, looking abnormally large, which first became yellow then changing colour rapidly and turned fluorescent, before becoming a brilliant turquoise, and then going back to the sky in a straight line, as soundlessly as it had appeared. Spaceships would have traced a circular trajectory, but this one - if you placed a ruler and drew a line, that's how straight a path it charted back to its original position, I am sure it was some alien life form that was prospecting the earth for water, or some other source of sustenance, who knows,' Colonel Sayed said.

The 50-year-old Colonel added that he was a God-fearing person, but an astronomer as well, who firmly believed that the Universe had literally millions of stars, and many more galaxies comprising a billion planets like those in our Solar System.

Describing the scepticism and reaction of his friends who saw the event with him, and those he had told the story to, Colonel Sayed said: 'One of my friends shouted 'Allah ho Akbar', the other fled indoors for fear of abduction or attack, but the rest of us stayed on to watch the spectacle, believe me it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. Later I had a friend of mine call from Qatar to tell me I had just proved what he suspected all along - that there is life outside our Solar System after all,' he said.

'Of course several others called us completely insane, and even asked if we were actually consuming alcohol or smoking pot, since it seemed so incredible, five of those friends were deeply religious people, and the whole aspersion was absurd!' he grinned.

Colonel Sayed said he had been visiting Hatta for over 30 years with a telescope, and knew the difference between planes and spaceships!

'The standard flight path is from east to west, while this object was travelling from north to south, and there was no sound coming from the 'craft', while planes and copters are never silent,' he said, explaining his conviction.

Another Abu Dhabi resident, 32-year-old Abhilash Menon, who is a software professional working for an MNC, said he was sitting out in the balcony of his home in Bangalore with his brother-in-law, some years ago, when he happened to see a movement in the sky.

'When I focused on it, I could make out a triangle shape, with rows of lights running through the edges and one row through the centre. But the thing was very faint, and I guess it must have been flying very high. I was just plain lucky to have locked my eyes onto it, and when I tried to show it to my brother-in-law, he could not spot it!! The shape moved across the sky very fast, and it disappeared into the horizon of the clear night sky,' he said.

So, do UFO's really exist then?

City Times asked Hassan Al Hariri, President of Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG), who is also a key consultant on the subject, what he thought on the subject of UFO's, and whether the DAG had any reports of last Friday's occurrence.

'No, we have no reports so far, but since this lady claimed to be in the main city, where the sky is choked and unclear, and visibility of stars itself is remote, I think there is every possibility it was a plane, a helicopter, or some kind of intelligence activity that was taking place,' said Hariri.

Dubbing the 'UFO sighting' 'highly unlikely', he added that it was much more likely to have been a low-flying Russian aircraft of some sort, as they usually kept low altitudes, generated much air pressure and vibration. A die-hard sceptic when it comes to Ufology (the study and information relating to UFO's), Hariri said the DAG had some two or three calls at the most about UFO sightings a year.

'Now tell me something, why would some form of Alien Intelligence, advanced enough to come to our earth, simply orbit around and leave after satisfying a curiosity element, our earth is so much more beautiful than that, and has so much more to offer, why don't they come down and talk to us?' he chuckled.

Hariri's explanation for why there are fewer UFO folklores and sightings reported today than in the 1960's and '70's?

'The Cold War was on then between USSR and the USA, and there was all kinds of intelligence activity, spaceships and submarines and the like, so people used to mistake these for UFO's. Today things are much more transparent, it is a similar scenario to the Bermuda Triangle story, today people don't seem perturbed by it at all, while at one time, ships never used to venture in that direction,' he said. He added that whenever people do call with these startling revelations, the first thing the DAG tries to do is determine the credibility of the story.

'People generally think they have seen something, although in reality it may be something quite usual, so we ask a lot of questions to see what they say, why they think they saw something, etc.,' he said.

So, the question remains unresolved. What could Prachi Manghnani have actually seen that day? Do you believe that we share this Universe with so many forms of alien and artificial intelligence? Are UFO's a part of our world today? City Times would love to hear from you, if you have seen any such 'unearthly' going on, you can e-mail us at citytime@emirates.net.ae

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