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THE UAE | Saudi Arabia intends to launch a woman into space in 2023.

THE UAE | Prince Sultan bin Salman of Saudi Arabia discusses his mission to space on the NASA Discovery shuttle in 1985 during a speech at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on March 8, 2016. Saudi Arabia revealed intentions to start a training programme on Thursday, September 22, 2022, with the aim of sending its own astronauts, including a woman, into space the following year.

As part of its extensive Vision 2030 strategy to revamp its economy and lessen its reliance on oil, the monarchy is vigorously encouraging science and technology. (AP Photo/File: Aya Batrawy) THE AFFILIATED PRESS

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that it will begin a training programme in order to send its own astronauts into space in 2019—among them, a woman.

As part of its extensive Vision 2030 strategy to revamp its economy and lessen its reliance on oil, the monarchy is vigorously encouraging science and technology.

The initiative, which is supported by Saudi Arabia’s charismatic Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also asks for more women to be employed in the traditionally Muslim nation. In 2018, a long-standing prohibition on women driving was repealed in Saudi Arabia.

The ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 programme, which includes the Saudi Astronaut Program, “will send Saudi astronauts into space to assist better serve mankind,” according to a statement from the Saudi Space Commission.

A Saudi woman will be one of the astronauts, marking a first for the country by travelling to space.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan bin Salman, an air force pilot and the half-brother of the crown prince, was the first Arab or Muslim to fly to space.

He was a member of the seven-person crew of NASA’s Discovery mission in 1985. Later, between 2018 to last year, he presided over the Saudi Space Commission before being named King Salman’s adviser.

The nearby United Arab Emirates, which sent a probe into Mars’ orbit in February 2021, has the most advanced space programme in the Arab world.

THE UAE

In November, the UAE intends to launch its first lunar rover. The UAE and Japan, which is contributing the lunar lander, would become the fourth country after the United States, Russia, and China to send a spacecraft to the moon’s surface if the moon mission is successful.

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