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First Emirati astronaut in space motivates students of Emirates International School – Jumeirah
27-FEB-2020

- Hazzaa Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi share their insightful experience
- Astronauts' visit aimed at inspiring future generations, broadening their horizons

Emirates International School – Jumeirah proudly welcomed Hazzaa Al Mansouri, the first Emirati Astronaut to travel into space aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, and Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE space mission’s backup astronaut, for a special school assembly.

Pratibha Rao, School Principal of EIS - J welcomed the Emirati astronauts at the assembly attended by 600 students in the school's theatre and live-streamed on the school’s social media platforms. Attending on behalf of Al Habtoor Group (AHG), which coordinated the astronauts' visit, were Abdul Salam Al Marzooqi, Director of UAE Affairs & Community Relations for AHG and Mohammed Al Mazrooei, Executive Director.

The astronauts' visit was aimed at inspiring the students to nurture scientific and creative ambitions, broaden their horizons and help them develop the attitudes and skills to think outside the box in selecting and pursuing their dream careers. EIS-J organised the visit in order to encourage their students to pursue careers particularly related to both offbeat and STEM fields, with Al Manousri's background as aviation major and military pilot serving as inspiration.

Amna Al Habtoor, Director of Schools - EIS, said: "As part of developing our students' life skills and outlook, we invited the UAE's first astronauts to share their knowledge and experience. This will help further our youngsters' capabilities and give them an idea of what they can aspire to and achieve if they put their minds to it."

Reminiscing on their exceptional space-related feats in September-October 2019, a historical moment for the UAE, Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi shared the complete journey of their travel into space with the students. In an insightful presentation, the duo explained the experience thoroughly, starting from applying to the UAE Astronaut Programme and the selection and training process to completing the mission and returning to earth.

Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi were selected from approximately 4,000 applicants to the UAE Astronaut Programme after a series of advanced medical and psychological tests. The programme aims to develop scientific cadres and prepare future generations of astronauts to fulfill Sheikh Zayed's vision of making the UAE a major player in space research and exploration.

Recounting his experience to the EIS-J students, Al Mansouri said, “It was definitely not easy. I had to learn Russian and go through multiple training programmes to make the trip into space. For example, we endured harsh Winter Survival Training, which teaches astronauts how to survive the harsh Russian winter in the wild, in case we are forced to make emergency landings on our way back to earth.” As part of his space trip, Al Mansouri spent eight days aboard the International Space Station, carrying out scientific experiments and promoting the UAE's image to the world.

Encouraging the students to work towards their dreams, he continued: "It is really important to have goals in your life. Set daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals and yearly goals, and work hard to achieve them.”

“I encourage you to always follow your passion. Dream big and study hard so that you grow up to have a career you love,” added Al Neyadi. The assembly ended with an extremely engaging Q&A session, where the UAE space mission's stellar astronauts answered multiple questions from the students.

At the end, Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi were presented with signed copies of ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor – The Autobiography’, the story of AHG Founding Chairman Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor's own life journey from humble beginnings to helming one of the UAE’s largest business conglomerates.

Emirates International Schools have some of the highest numbers of Emirati students among UAE private schools, enabling their development and offering them a diversity of future career options. Nurturing their students' scientific curiosity has resulted in exceptional achievements - an EIS student's initiative, which boosted spacecraft shells' ability to deflect radiation - was sent into outer space aboard a rocket by NASA in 2018.