UAE - Longest Space Mission by Arab

Arno Froese

The UAE’s relatively nascent space program reflects the country’s wider ambitions to secure a spot on the world stage alongside global powers like the United States and China, which have advanced space programs and cutting-edge observation satellites and technology.

“It was really amazing, especially for my region,” Alneyadi said in a video conference a few days before leaving the ISS. “I felt that I’m responsible, obligated to show what’s happening aboard the station. I think it’s a small boost towards spreading the enthusiasm in our region.”

The UAE has a population of about 10 million, with only about a million of them Emirati citizens and the rest foreign workers. It has limited political freedoms—often drawing criticism from human rights groups—and is led by hereditary rulers from each of its seven emirates. But the rulers have placed a priority on space exploration, spending close to $6 billion on various industry projects to spur investments, boost the country’s profile and give it a competitive technological edge.

“Those types of things will help us hopefully in the future land on the surface of Mars and of course send humans to the surface of Mars,” Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center Salem Al Marri told NPR.

Alneyadi, a Ph.D. holder in information technology, beat out thousands of candidates in the UAE, passing numerous physical and psychological tests to ensure he could withstand the taxing fitness and mental stress of being in space for many months. He then trained in Russia and the U.S. to become an astronaut.

In one of his final social media posts from space, Alneyadi wrote: “Space, this is not a goodbye. I will see you later, whether on a new mission to the ISS or a farther destination.”, 7 September 2023

Arno's Commentary

This super-rich country tries desperately to be counted among the large nations … those with space technology experience. The United Arab Emirates is one of the few nations where its citizens are in the minority; CIA Factbook states that 88% are foreigners. Life expectancy is close to 80 years, and GDP per capita is listed at approximately $70,000. Why do nations exhibit such a strong desire to travel in space? We may answer with one word: pride. “Let us make us a name” (Genesis 11:4).

Granted, some experiments are made that may be helpful for medicine and communications, among many other things, but the exorbitant amount of resources spent most likely do not justify the undertaking. But, as mentioned, pride is the fuel for the so-called boast, “To reach the stars”—though the space station is barely 420 km (261 miles) from the earth’s surface, and space is infinite. Here we are reminded of Psalm 147:4-5: “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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