All eyes in the Arab world were focused on the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, as a historic live broadcast showed astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates performing the first-ever spacewalk for an Arab citizen.
Al-Neyadi spent 6.5 hours outside the ISS, wearing a spacesuit that weighs 145 kg (319 Ibs) on earth with the UAE flag on its sleeve. Along with crewmate Stephen Bowen of NASA, he prepared the ISS for the installation of advanced solar arrays, set to take place on a future spacewalk.
Their second mission was to retrieve an old piece of communication equipment that was unable to return to earth because it was connected so tightly that they were not able to successfully free it up from the structure. Nasa then instructed them to head back inside the ISS.
The spacewalk, known as an extravehicular activity, was closely observed in the UAE and worldwide. Nasa’s mission control in Houston reportedly said Al-Neyadi’s work was “impressive.”
When he first climbed out of the ISS, the mission congratulated him.
“Congratulations to the UAE for having its flag outside the International Space Station for the first time.”
UAE President Mohamed Bin Zayed praised Al-Neyadi on Twitter, writing: With this week’s new discoveries by the Hope probe, the achievements of the Rashid Rover mission, and  Al-Neyadi’s first ever spacewalk by an Arab astronaut, the UAE continues to make a meaningful contribution to space exploration and advancements in science.”
Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, hailed the astronauts’ conduct after three years of intensive training, adding: “They say that two-thirds of the stars in the sky bear Arabic names.. Arabs are capable.. Arabs are advancing.. Arabs are creative if we decide to focus on science.. and invest in youth.. and stay away from our differences.”

Al-Neyadi, a father of five, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 2, as part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission. He is the second UAE citizen to fly into space.
Overall, Al-Neyadi will remain aboard the ISS for six months and is expected to conduct 19 experiments. Earlier this month, he posted a picture from the ISS on Twitter , adding that “It is a great honor for me to be part of this historic mission, representing my country, the UAE, and to receive NASA’s golden astronaut pin. I will wear this pin as a symbol of the commitment I made when I started.”
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