In a virtual gathering of Saudi and UAE space officials and astronauts


Dr. Al Alshaikh Sheds Light on Ajyal Program as a Reflection of Saudi Leadership’s Ambition and Resolve Dr. Abdulaziz Al Alshaikh, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Space Commission (SSC), deemed that SSC’s Ajyal Space Program reflects the strategic direction of the Saudi leadership and Vision 2030, as it seeks to empower and inspire future generations to attain leadership in the space industry.

The Human Capital Development Program, dubbed Ajyal, was inaugurated in early 2020 with the strategic goal of inspiring Saudi talents to earn knowledge and pursue careers in space science and technologies.

Through Ajyal, the SSC thrives to build a national human capital base for the space industry and catalyze scientific research, said Dr. Al Shaikh who was speaking at a virtual space-focused session attended by top officials from the SSC and its Emirati counterpart, the UAE Space Agency, as well as Emirati astronauts Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Nayadi.

On his part, Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of UAE Space Agency, noted that the Emirati government, represented by the UAE Space Agency, is keen to advance cooperation with Saudi Arabia to leverage the space industry as a source of inspiration for future generations and tap its vital contribution to the national economy and investments.

Al Ahbabi expressed gratitude for the role played by HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, Chairman of SSC in advancing the space industry in Saudi Arabia, and his membership of the advisory committee of UAE Space Agency.

“The UAE Agency is currently formulating its long-term strategic program and plans, in which it will seek closer cooperation with Saudi Arabia, banking on the rich experience of Prince Sultan as the first Arab and Muslim astronaut,” said Al Ahbabi.

On his side, Dr. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri, Consultant at Saudi Space Commission (SSC), considered that Saudi Arabia’s history with the space started in 1976 by the creation of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) and holding the largest shareholding in it; followed by the launch of more than 16 satellites, executing applied research programs; mandating Prince Sultan to participate in NASA’s STS-51-C mission, and the formation of Saudi Space Commission in 2018.

The two Emirati astronauts, Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Nayadi, enriched the discussion by sharing part of their experiences. Al Mansouri said that he personally conducted 16 experiments aboard his 8-day space mission; and urged Arab youth to remain on the lookout for opportunities, narrating that he, after his return from space, spent three days incapable of moving as a result of gravity difference. 

Sultan Al Nayadi pointed out that his passion for the space started from childhood and became a reality after joining the UAE Astronauts Program that offered him top-notch preparation ahead of participation in actual space missions. 

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