“Despite being miles away, my heart longed for the warmth of this land,” – Hazza Al Mansoori said on his official Instagram while on the ISS
Major Hazza Al Mansoori, the UAE’s first astronaut, landed safely back in the UAE on the evening of Saturday October 12, 2019 and was received by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the Presidential Airport.
Hazza was joined by backup astronaut, Dr Sultan Al Neyadi, and the pair were given a hero’s welcome when they landed at the Presidential Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport on a Presidential Flight at 4.40pm.
The great spirit and vigour displayed by Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi throughout this journey has done the UAE and its people proud. We are proud of them and all ambitious UAE youth who dream big. pic.twitter.com/auxHFjsEOk
— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) October 12, 2019
The Crown Prince posted photos of the event on his official Twitter account in a series of tweets and stated “The great spirit and vigour displayed by Hazza Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi throughout this journey has done the UAE and its people proud. We are proud of them and all ambitious UAE youth who dream big.”
Emerging from the Presidential aircraft, Hazza waved to his awaiting crowd from the top of the stairs wearing the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) blue space suit and draped in a UAE flag. Upon his descent, he was met by the Crown Prince, and the two exchanged greetings.
Hazza then presented the Crown Prince with the flag of the UAE, which he took along with him on his journey to the International Space Station.
The Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces was accompanied by his grandchildren, other ministers and more than 100 school children to welcome the astronaut back home.
According to The National, during a press conference held on the same day, Hazza was asked how he felt to be returning home. To which the astronaut said that his pride was indescribable.
He was quoted as saying “As I was coming down from the plane and I saw Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, I saw in him the image of Sheikh Zayed and a dream older than 40 years coming true. I saw the happiness of Sheikh Zayed in all of you. I saw my country waiting for me. [I saw] pride that I represented the UAE and the Arab world in this mission. This is the start of a flame of hope for the Arab world in this field. I told Sheikh Mohamed that, for me, today is the day that I returned to Earth. ”
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Not only was Hazza the first Emirati astronaut in space, he was also the first to speak Arabic in space. He also wore the traditional Emirati dress while aboard the ISS, and showed other astronauts on the ISS how he prays.
During the ceremony, the Crown Prince stated that Maj Al Mansouri and Dr Al Neyadi, along with their colleagues at the National Space Programme, have laid down a solid basis for the nation’s space ambition to reach Mars. Ending his series of tweets, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said “All thanks and appreciation to the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the UAE team of engineers, technicians and others, who contributed to the success of this remarkable journey inspiring our youth to contribute for the good of the nation.”
Welcome home, Hazza!