Home Culture Events UAE envoy Yousef Al Otaiba takes a call from space, thrilling thousands

UAE envoy Yousef Al Otaiba takes a call from space, thrilling thousands

UAE envoy Yousef Al Otaiba takes a call from space, thrilling thousands

Entertainer Steve Harvey and Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates met up for an unusual diplomatic event Aug. 23 at George Washington University. Together, they received a video call from Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and his American counterpart, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both of whom completed a six-month mission Sept. 4 on the International Space Station (ISS).

The event was co-hosted by NASA, the UAE Embassy and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai. Harvey moderated a discussion with NASA Associate Administrator Karen Feldstein, MBRSC Director General Salem Al Marri and UAE astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori on the importance of international cooperation in space. Thousands of young Emirati stargazers tuned in online, captivated by Al Neyadi, who in April became the first Arab astronaut to complete a spacewalk outside the ISS.

In the video chat, the astronauts talked about their daily lives at the ISS, how they exercised, maintained the space station and worked on more than 100 scientific experiments during the course of their mission.

“By working together we are accelerating technical progress and scientific discovery that only can be done with the type of collaboration that you see here today,” Al Marri said. “Despite its relatively brief history in the field of space exploration, the UAE’s space program has made impressive strides in part due to its bilateral relationships with the United States, South Korea and Russia. The program now boasts a complete analysis of the Martian atmosphere. Far from stopping now, the program has set its sights on the asteroid belt just past Mars, promising even more exciting discoveries.”

With this newfound success, the UAE has pledged to help other countries develop their space programs. As Feldstein said: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. And if you want to go farther, go together.”

As part of that shared interest, future UAE astronauts are already training with their counterparts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Gabriella Bartlett