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27 Sep, Wednesday
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Sultan AlNeyadi receives a hero’s welcome as he returns home

UAE leaders welcomed Sultan AlNeyadi as he landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday. President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, received the astronaut after he landed in Abu Dhabi. He was also received by his father and three children.

During the discussion, they lauded him for completing the Arab world’s longest-ever spaceflight and for becoming the first Arab to perform a spacewalk.

The President was joined by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to witness the triumphant homecoming of the UAE astronaut.

The UAE astronaut thanked Their Highnesses for their ongoing support for the UAE’s space programme, and then presented His Highness the President with a UAE flag that had accompanied him throughout his 186-day mission to the ISS. Al Neyadi accomplished the longest Arab space mission onboard the ISS, during which he became the first Arab to perform a spacewalk.

A grand reception for Dr Al Neyadi included Emirati pupils in astronaut flight suits. Giant screens spread across the terminal displayed portraits of the astronaut and messages of his homecoming.His father and several of his six children greeted him as he exited the aircraft, welcoming him back with hugs.

Dr Al Neyadi, who was born in Al Ain, made history during his ISS mission when he became the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk.He returned to Earth on September 4.During a briefing held after the reception, Dr Al Neyadi said that he was happy to see the grand welcome he had been given.“Today, being received by the leadership and my parents signified the importance of space,” he said.

“They believed in us. It was a great reception.”He said his flight from Houston to Abu Dhabi was about the same duration as flying from the space station to Earth, but both offered very different views.

“I’ve seen beautiful scenes from the Dragon capsule’s window,” he said.“The window was facing up and I saw the Milky Way. When I was young, I used to see the Milky Way from Al Ain when there wasn’t any light pollution.

“It was a special experience to see my dream turning into reality.”

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