'United in pride': Sultan Al Neyadi receives hero's welcome in Abu Dhabi

President Sheikh Mohamed congratulates astronaut on his 'remarkable achievement'

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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday to a hero's welcome after a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, received the astronaut at Abu Dhabi's new airport terminal.

“I was honoured to join my brother Mohammed bin Rashid to celebrate the homecoming of our astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi,” Sheikh Mohamed posted on social media on Monday evening.

“The people of the UAE are united in pride for his remarkable achievement, which has further advanced our nation’s space exploration ambitions.”

Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi hands UAE flag to President Sheikh Mohamed

Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi hands UAE flag to President Sheikh Mohamed

Dr Al Neyadi handed an Emirati flag that had been to space to Sheikh Mohamed, who unfurled it for television cameras.

“I am thrilled to share the exciting news that our national flag has made its way to space for the second time, but this time, it ventured beyond the confines of the space station,” Dr Al Neyadi said.

“This is merely the inception of our journey, and with the grace of God, we aspire to achieve further milestones in space exploration.

“I have a vision that this mission will be followed by the placement of the flag I hold in my hands today on both the Moon and Mars.”

Sheikh Mohammed said Dr Al Neyadi's success represented a major milestone for the UAE.

“We will continue, God willing, to send more astronauts from our young men and women and we will continue to launch more scientific, research and exploratory projects in space and on Earth,” he wrote on social media.

“We will continue, God willing, to invest in humanity.”

A grand reception for Dr Al Neyadi included Emirati pupils in astronaut flight suits. Giant screens spread across the terminal displayed portraits of the astronaut and messages of his homecoming.

His father and several of his six children greeted him as he exited the aircraft, welcoming him back with hugs.

Dr Al Neyadi, who was born in Al Ain, made history during his ISS mission when he became the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk.

He returned to Earth on September 4.

During a briefing held after the reception, Dr Al Neyadi said that he was happy to see the grand welcome he had been given.

“Today, being received by the leadership and my parents signified the importance of space,” he said.

“They believed in us. It was a great reception.”

He said his flight from Houston to Abu Dhabi was about the same duration as flying from the space station to Earth, but both offered very different views.

“I've seen beautiful scenes from the Dragon capsule's window,” he said.

“The window was facing up and I saw the Milky Way. When I was young, I used to see the Milky Way from Al Ain when there wasn't any light pollution.

“It was a special experience to see my dream turning into reality.”

This is the moment UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi landed in Abu Dhabi

This is the moment UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi landed in Abu Dhabi
Updated: September 19, 2023, 5:29 AM