Rapturous reception as astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi returns to his hometown

Umm Ghafa celebrates the return of local hero after six months on the International Space Station

Sultan Al Neyadi is welcomed back to hometown

Sultan Al Neyadi is welcomed back to hometown
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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi was given a hero's welcome in his hometown of Umm Ghafa in Al Ain.

A video was shared on social media showing Dr Al Neyadi celebrating with members of his local community, just days after returning to the UAE after his six-month mission on the International Space Station.

The footage, shared on Thursday evening, shows a gala reception for Dr Al Neyadi with hundreds of locals in traditional Emirati dress.

The astronaut is seen in the video shaking hands with local dignitaries while traditional dancing takes place.

It follows on from his arrival in Abu Dhabi on Monday, where he was received by President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

At the reception on Monday, Dr Al Neyadi handed Sheikh Mohamed an Emirati flag that had been to space. Sheikh Mohamed unfurled the flag 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.”

He then told The National that he hoped that his next voyage to space would include a visit to a planned station in the Moon’s orbit.

Nasa plans to build a small station – called Lunar Gateway – that is expected to start orbiting the Moon by the end of this decade.

“I would to love to go there but it depends on the opportunity and suitability for the mission,” he said on Monday.

“As you know, space has a lot of effects. We don't know what could happen. Bodies receive a lot of radiation.

“We're still under the process of identifying what sort of impact the six months in space has had on my body.”

Updated: September 21, 2023, 4:20 PM