Commemorative coin to honour astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri now on sale

The silver coin issued by the UAE Central Bank celebrates the achievements of the country's first man in space

The Central Bank has issued commemorative coins to honour the UAE's first astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri. 

The UAE Central Bank issued a commemorative silver coin on Sunday in honour of the country's first astronaut.

The 40-gram coin celebrates Hazza Al Mansouri's momentous journey to space and his time spent aboard the International Space Station last September.

The coin, which features a portrait of Maj Al Mansouri, has "UAE Mission 1" and 25/09/19" engraved on it – the name of the country's space mission and the date he launched into space.

The souvenir is on sale for Dh300 at the bank's headquarters and its branches across the Emirates.

"Today we are delighted to take pride in the efforts made by the first Emirati astronaut," said Mubarak Al Mansouri, governor of the UAE Central Bank.

"We, at the Central Bank, are keen to contribute to preserving and perpetuating this historic achievement by issuing a commemorative silver coin.

"Hazza Al Mansouri has proven that we in the UAE have no such word as 'impossible', and the people of this country are able to achieve the ambitions of their wise leadership for the higher good of the homeland across all fronts."

The coin is not the first show of support for Maj Al Mansouri. Emirates Post issued six special-edition stamps on the day he set off for the ISS.

Maj Al Mansouri was also the third Arab in space.

During his eight-day stint on the ISS, he orbited the Earth 128 times – a journey of almost five million kilometres.

After returning to Earth, Maj Al Mansouri said his mission was "only the beginning" for the UAE's burgeoning space programme.

He said the  Emirates would not have to wait long before they had another astronaut in space. His pledge is set to be fulfilled as the UAE Space Agency steps up efforts to recruit the next Emirati astronaut.

Seeing his own face on UAE currency is just another example of how Maj Al Mansouri's time in space has changed his life forever.

During an event held to promote the country's space sector in November, he told of how his exploits had captured the imagination of the next generation.

“The first time I went to mosque, after returning, I met a couple of kids who asked me about the space mission,” he said.

“The next day I went back and was shocked by the crowds of children there waiting for me and I spent an hour explaining it all to them.”

A trip to Masdar Park, Abu Dhabi, with his family soon led to a crowd converging on its new hero.

“Some of the kids there recognised me and I spent two hours answering all their questions,” he said.

“My wife joked ‘that’s it, we’re not going out anymore’.”

In December, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, called for applications from men and women with "ambition, energy and determination" to join Maj Al Mansouri in the record books.

Salem Al Marri, director of the UAE Astronaut Programme, said they received about 1,000 applications in the four hours after registration opened.