UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi has shared images of what’s perhaps the most iconic moment from his grand homecoming ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening. Taking to microblogging platform X, he posted the images of the emotional moment when he gifted the UAE flag he took to space to the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
A visibly emotional Sheikh Mohamed is seen kissing the flag that floated aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for 184 days. “Homeland,” AlNeyadi posted along with the images.
The President and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, led the nation in welcoming back the 42-year-old astronaut after his record-breaking mission that saw him become the first Arab spacewalker.
In a statement released via the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), AlNeyadi described the emotions he felt at returning to the country.
"Standing here today, back on our beloved soil, I'm humbled and profoundly moved by the overwhelming presence and support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, my cherished family and the entire team at MBRSC. My heart swells with gratitude as I realise the magnitude of the journey we've undertaken and achieved. The success of this mission resonates with the spirit of our nation – which reaffirms that the impossible is possible.”
He thanked the leaders for their unwavering faith that “guided us through our every endeavour”.
“This momentous achievement is not just mine but belongs to every Emirati, especially our youth, who are destined to reach even greater heights. Together, with unity and resolve, our nation will continue to carve out a legacy of unparalleled accomplishments,” he added.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, chairman, MBRSC, hailed the leaders for propelling the team to milestones in space “we once only dreamt of”.
“The longest Arab space mission in history stands as a testament to our nation's vision and the UAE Space Programme's commitment to expanding human understanding and pushing boundaries for the benefit of all. As we welcome Sultan after completing his mission, we're not just celebrating a mere achievement but also our nation's aspirations while accentuating the UAE’s strategic position in global space pursuits,” he said.
Salem Humaid AlMarri, director-General, MBRSC, said AlNeyadi’s mission aboard the ISS represents a “remarkable milestone”. It has not only instilled “pride in our Emirati hearts but also stood as a beacon of hope, inspiration, and collaboration for all of humanity”.
“Today, as we celebrate Sultan’s return and the success of the mission, we reiterate our nation's pledge to contribute to global knowledge and inspire the next wave of pioneers in the UAE and beyond."
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