UAE in space: Hazzaa Al Mansoori to become first Emirati astronaut

Hazzaa Al Mansoori of the United Arab Emirates attends a news conference ahead of the mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in Star City, Russia, 5 September 2019Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Hazzaa Al Mansoori says he used to think going to space was impossible

Hazzaa Al Mansoori is about to make history as the first Emirati to reach space.

The 35-year-old former pilot is embarking on a mission this week to the International Space Station (ISS) after being chosen from thousands of applicants

He has said he is “living the impossible”.

Only two other people from Arab countries – Prince Sultan Bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud from Saudi Arabia and Muhammed Faris from Syria – have been to space. Both of their missions took place in the 1980s.

The trip is being hailed as a positive sign for the UAE’s growing space sector. Other plans include an unmanned mission to Mars, with hopes of reaching the red planet in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the state.