Students need not be in West to be successful or recognised: UAE-based Astrophysicist

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - Dr Guessom said he was flattered and humbled to be ranked on that list among historic and iconic figures of space exploration.



By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sat 26 Dec 2020, 7:39 PM

Students need not be in the West to be successful or recognised, said Dr Nidhal Guessom who was recently named among the top 100 leaders in space exploration for 2021.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk topped the Richtopia list followed by acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, and Richard Branson also made it to the list.

Dr Guessoum, who’s forte is cosmic gamma-rays and Islamic astronomy, stood at the 65th spot ahead of UAE’s first astronaut, Hazza Ali AlMansouri, who came 81st in the list.

Dr Guessom said he was flattered and humbled to be ranked on that list among historic and iconic figures of space exploration. “I immediately felt that this is not about me, this has greater meaning, to our students in this part of the world. It shows them that they don’t need to be in the West to succeed and be recognised, that one’s diligent efforts will be seen and hailed by others elsewhere. It is a great encouragement for us all here, in the field of space and beyond.”

The Algerian astrophysicist, who is also a faculty at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), has written many articles and several books on issues related to science, education and Islam, such as Islamic Astronomy — the crescent observation problem and the Islamic calendar.

His titles range from The Story of the Universe and The Problem of Crescent Months and The Islamic Calendar. Previous to his appointment at the AUS, Dr Guessoum taught in Kuwait and Algeria and spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.

“What is remarkable about the UAE’s strides in the field of space is the fact that it decides to venture into exploration, beyond applied space science and technology (satellites and their applications) — the first such bold move for an Arab country,” he said.

Hailing the UAE’s ambitious space programmes earlier as well as in the pandemic struck year, Dr Guessoum added: “The decision to send a probe to Mars, to send an astronaut to conduct experiments onboard the International Space Station and to send a rover to the Moon in a few years — all these show a vision that is uncommon and unprecedented for the Arab world.

“What remains is to develop space launch capabilities, and then the UAE will be a bona fide space power among a handful of nations in the world. The future looks hugely exciting,” said Dr Guessoum.

nandini@khaleejtimes.com


More news from Education