'Wish I could also go to space': UAE kids all inspired to reach for the stars after watching AlNeyadi's historic spacewalk

With great pride, residents of all ages watched every step of the Sultan of Space as he completed the seven-hour mission

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Published: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 5:56 PM

Last updated: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 11:33 PM

When UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi stepped out of the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, he carried not only the country's flag but also the dream of every kid who's longing for his or her turn to shoot for the stars. Emirati kids and expat youth were among those who stayed up late to watch AlNeyadi's historic spacewalk — the first for an Arab astronaut.

The spacewalk — which officially started at 5.11pm (UAE time) — lasted for seven hours and one minute. And, during this period, all eyes were glued to screens as residents followed the action in real-time.

Eight-year-old Emirati Abdurrahman Ali Al Mulla watched the mission with his entire family.

"I was so happy to see the first Arab in space," he said. "I wish I can also go to space to see all the stars and see what is in space because it would be so cool."

As he watched every step of the Sultan of Space, his excitement was mixed with some anxiety. "It was a little scary to see him holding on and moving around," he said. "I was thinking, what if he lets go and floats away? I just wanted him to return to where he would be safe."

Abdurrahman loves all things space. In fact, when AlNeyadi entered the ISS, he made this drawing with his mother:

"I took it to school the day Sultan entered the ISS," he said. "I wanted to celebrate with my friends."

Teeb Rateb Sultan, another Jordanian student, was preparing for her midterm exams but she made sure she was able to watch the spacewalk, too.

“The UAE has always been a symbol of success and ambition, and perhaps the greatest example of this is the remarkable development in the field of space, which calls for pride,” said Teeb, who studies at the Sheikha Bint Saeed Academy in Ajman.

“We are continuously following the great achievement of the UAE and the astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, the first Arab to conduct the spacewalk. This is something to be proud of, and it is an achievement that will be recorded in history for the UAE and the Arab world," she added.

Mehreen Arfaz, a 13-year-old Indian student, was amazed at how the mission unfolded.

"It was very cool to see how the hatch opened and how they slowly made their way out," she said. "I have only read about spacewalks, but seeing it happen in real time was quite amazing."

Mehreen's favourite part? "Watching the sunrise and sunset," the eighth-grader said. "I am waiting for Sultan AlNeyadi to come back. I hope that I will be able to attend some of his talks afterward. It would be nice to listen to his experiences."

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'Proud of the UAE'

Sofia Ahmed Saleh Alkhatibi Al Falasi, a final-year medicine student at Gulf Medical University, said the historic spacewalk was moment of great pride and an inspiration for all Emiratis.

“As a girl studying medicine and having a keen interest in science, witnessing an astronaut from the UAE advancing the frontiers of space exploration brings a great sense of passion for relentlessly pursuing knowledge and innovation. I wish him the best and hope he comes back safely," she said.

Dr Adil Sajwani, family medicine consultant at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital in Dubai, said it was not only the feat but AlNeyadi's hard work and dedication that have inspired the youth.

"We are proud to have such a remarkable individual represent our country and serve as a role model for future generations,” Dr Sajwani said.

Dr Mohamed Almarzooqi, head of the department and consultant of interventional neuroradiology and interventional radiology at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, added: “This milestone achievement is a triumph for the UAE and the Arab world. It symbolises the potential and capability of our nation and its people in space exploration and technological advancements....It showcases that with hard work, determination, and unwavering support from our leadership, we can achieve anything we set our minds to."


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