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The First Arab Emirati Astronaut

Following the successful launch of the UAE’s Hope Probe and its rendezvous with Mars on February 9, 2021, the UAE has announced its first female astronaut. Nora Al Matrooshi, a 27-year-old Emirati engineer, will be the next Arab woman in space and on the cusp of joining an elite group of space pioneers.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has announced this on his Twitter account.

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The UAE announced Nora Al Matrooshi as one of the country’s two new astronauts. She was chosen alongside pilot Mohammed Al Mulla, 33-year-old, out of 4,305 applicants after going through a rigorous testing process, making four people under the UAE Astronaut Program. They include Hazza al-Mansouri, who became the first Emirati in space in 2019 when he flew to the International Space Station.

Al Matrooshi is the first female Arab astronaut. There had been only 65 women in space. She was chosen from over 4,000 candidates to be trained and qualified for future exploration missions. The two form the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Program.

The UAE is investing heavily in space. The country has also invested in aviation and is already a manufacturer of advanced aircraft parts supplying commercial plane makers like Boeing and Airbus. The UAE is using its space program to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil.