Lessons from 2021: 8 things that taught us to ‘never say never’

Take a look at some of the incredible ways the world blazed a brand-new trail and made history this year.



by

Karen Ann Monsy

Published: Fri 31 Dec 2021, 8:55 AM

Last updated: Fri 31 Dec 2021, 9:10 AM

Whatever else 2021 was, it was also the year of many ‘firsts’. Some of those historic milestones were things we’d only dreamed of; others surpassed our very imaginations.

Each of those headlines, however, was like a shot in the arm. Offering a burst of new hope and redefining what we believe the human spirit is capable of.

In the UAE alone, we saw the rise of the first female Arab astronaut (hello, Nora AlMatrooshi), and the establishment of the first embassy in Israel by a Gulf nation. Meanwhile, Dubai welcomed the Middle East’s first cashierless store.

Take a look at some of the other incredible ways the world blazed a brand-new trail and made history this year.

This man tweeted… 
with a thought!

“No need for keystrokes or voices. I created this tweet just by thinking it.” Paralytic Philip O’Keefe’s Twitter post said it all, and in less than 140 characters, too. The first-ever ‘direct-thought’ tweet was made possible thanks to a brain chip implant. — Photo courtesy: Twitter
“No need for keystrokes or voices. I created this tweet just by thinking it.” Paralytic Philip O’Keefe’s Twitter post said it all, and in less than 140 characters, too. The first-ever ‘direct-thought’ tweet was made possible thanks to a brain chip implant. — Photo courtesy: Twitter

Bitcoin becomes legal tender

A Starbucks store sign reads ‘Exclusive Bitcoin register’. El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept the cryptocurrency as a payment method. — Reuters
A Starbucks store sign reads ‘Exclusive Bitcoin register’. El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept the cryptocurrency as a payment method. — Reuters

At last, a four-day workweek

The concept had been trialled in several countries, but this year, the UAE became the first country to officially adopt a 4.5-day workweek, while Sharjah opted for the world’s first four-day workweek. — Wam
The concept had been trialled in several countries, but this year, the UAE became the first country to officially adopt a 4.5-day workweek, while Sharjah opted for the world’s first four-day workweek. — Wam

3D-printed school: No bricks, no problem

It would’ve taken 70 years to build the primary classrooms that Malawi needs, but this school was erected in just 18 hours. The wonders of technology, indeed. — Photo Courtesy: CDC group
It would’ve taken 70 years to build the primary classrooms that Malawi needs, but this school was erected in just 18 hours. The wonders of technology, indeed. — Photo Courtesy: CDC group

Welcome to the sun

A Nasa spacecraft officially ‘touched’ the sun earlier this month, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona. — AP
A Nasa spacecraft officially ‘touched’ the sun earlier this month, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona. — AP

Guts and glory, there’s a story

The Philippines won double bragging rights this year, after journalist Maria Ressa  became the country’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner ...
The Philippines won double bragging rights this year, after journalist Maria Ressa became the country’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner ...
... and Hidilyn Diaz its first Olympic gold champion. — AP, AFP
... and Hidilyn Diaz its first Olympic gold champion. — AP, AFP

Space no longer just for astronauts

Who said only astronauts could get ‘out of this world’? In July, billionaire Richard Branson became the first person to ride into space in his own rocket ship, beating Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by nine days. Then, earlier this month, a billionaire and three less-wealthy private citizens blasted off aboard a SpaceX rocket ship. — Photo Courtesy: Virgin Galactic
Who said only astronauts could get ‘out of this world’? In July, billionaire Richard Branson became the first person to ride into space in his own rocket ship, beating Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by nine days. Then, earlier this month, a billionaire and three less-wealthy private citizens blasted off aboard a SpaceX rocket ship. — Photo Courtesy: Virgin Galactic

Barbados parts ways with Queen

Long live the Queen — but maybe not in Barbados. The Caribbean island forged a new republic last month, bidding goodbye to the British monarchy with its first-ever President Sandra Mason (pictured with Prince Charles).  — Reuters
Long live the Queen — but maybe not in Barbados. The Caribbean island forged a new republic last month, bidding goodbye to the British monarchy with its first-ever President Sandra Mason (pictured with Prince Charles). — Reuters

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