Sultan Al Neyadi pays tribute to 'beautiful Baghdad' in latest snapshot from space

Emirati astronaut says the historical city set the course of modern science

Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi took this picture of Baghdad from the International Space Station. Photo: Sultan Al Neyadi / Twitter
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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi photographed the bright lights of Baghdad from the International Space Station.

Dr Al Neyadi – who previously shared snapshots of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and his home city of Al Ain – said the Iraqi capital's impressive achievements serve as inspiration to always "reach for the stars".

The image shows the vast city, which has a population of more than 7.6 million, lit up at night from 400km above Earth.

"Here is the beautiful and historical city of Baghdad, the cornerstone of the golden age of knowledge," he tweeted alongside the picture on Wednesday.

"Scholars from this great city sparked the flames of discovery, setting the course for modern science. Their legacy reminds us to keep reaching for the stars."

Baghdad helped start the Islamic Golden Age in about 750 AD, a period of major cultural, scientific and economic prosperity in the region.

While western Europe was going through the Dark Ages – a period of major decline in culture and science – the Arab world was flourishing, with scholars and thinkers flocking to Baghdad's House of Wisdom to exchange ideas and make discoveries.

Major advancements were made in maths, medicine and other sciences, including astronomy.

Part of the motivation for looking to the skies was to advance tools so Muslims could better carry out their Islamic duties. They had to be able to tell time more accurately to perform the five daily prayers.

They also upgraded tools to determine the direction of the Kaaba – which Muslims must face while praying – and improved lunar calendars to mark religious events, including Ramadan, Hajj and Eid Al Fitr, by monitoring Moon phases.

Many stars in the skies discovered during the Islamic Golden Age still have Arabic names.

But a lot of the knowledge scholars gained during that time was translated into Latin and other languages, which is why they were never properly credited for their work, and why the era is not included in many school history books found in the West.

Dr Al Neyadi has been capturing many parts of the Arab world from the space station since arriving there on March 3.

He made a video of the Arabian Peninsula and has also taken images of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Emirates.

He is expected to return to Earth in late August.

Updated: May 17, 2023, 1:35 PM