UAE Selected First Hijabi Muslimah as Astronaut for its Space program

The United Arab Emirates elected the first Arab woman and first Hijabi Muslimah to train as an astronaut. 

Nora al-Matrooshi, 27, an Emirati citizen is a graduate in mechanical engineering and currently works at Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Construction Company was selected for NASA’s astronaut candidate class from over 4,300 applicants. Applicants were evaluated based on their scientific skills, qualifications, and practical experience, as well as their physical, psychological, and medical analysis. 

The UAE has an ambitious space program to develop its scientific and technological skills and reduce its dependence on oil. Earlier this year, the UAE launched its first mission to Mars, a”Hope Probe” spacecraft with the aim of researching the climate surrounding planet Mars.

The UAE is also promoting gender equality in the space sector by selecting al-Matrooshi as the country’s first female astronaut as well as the earlier Hope Mission to Mars being led by another Muslimah scientist, Sarah Al-Amiri.

Al-Matrooshi will join her compatriot Mohammed al Mulla who will both undergo training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

First Muslim Astronauts

The first Muslim in space was Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, who joined the crew of the shuttle Discovery in 1985.

The first Muslimah (Muslim woman) astronaut honor went to Anousheh Raissyan, an Iranian-American who traveled as a self-funded civilian to the International Space Station in 2006.

In 2007, Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopedic surgeon, was the first Malaysian in space, who spent time at the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-11 to conduct medical research on the growth of cancer cells in space. He is most famous for being the first Muslim to have prayed in space.

Nora al-Matrooshi has the honor of being the first Arab woman and the first Hijabi Muslimah to train as an astronaut funded by her country’s space program. 

Nora al-Matrooshi message to the world,

“My message to everyone is if I can do it, you can do it,” she said. “And if no one has done it before then you can just go ahead and be the first, because if you have the ambition and drive you will find opportunities everywhere at any time”.

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