On Thursday, Saudi Arabia said it would launch a training program with the aim of sending its own astronauts, including a woman, into space next year.
The kingdom is actively promoting science and technology as part of its wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to reform its economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
The plan, endorsed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, calls for greater integration of women into the workforce in the conservative Islamic state. Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018.
“The Saudi Astronaut Program, which is an integral part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, will send Saudi astronauts to outer space “To help better serve humanity,” the Saudi Space Authority said in a statement.
“One of the astronauts will be a Saudi woman, and her mission to space will set a historical precedent for the Kingdom.”
The first Arab or Muslim to travel into space was Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, the crown prince’s half-brother and an Air Force pilot who was part of the seven-member crew on NASA’s Discovery mission in 1985. He later served as chief of staff Saudi Space from 2018 until last year, when he was appointed as an advisor to King Salman.
The neighboring United Arab Emirates is the leader in the Arab world space programafter it launched a probe into Mars orbit in February 2021. United Arab Emirates Plans to launch the first lunar module in November. If the lunar mission succeeds, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, which provide the probe, will join the ranks of only the United States, Russia and China as countries that have placed spacecraft on the lunar surface.
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