Sarwat Nasir/Abu Dhabi
UAE astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori has been given a hero's welcome into his homeland after setting history by becoming the first Emirati in space and first Arab on the International Space Station.
AlMansoori and his mission's backup astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi arrived on a presidential flight at Abu Dhabi's VIP airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport on October 12 at 5pm.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received him. AlMansoori presented him with the UAE flag he had taken to space.
He was presented with many bouquets of flowers, was greeted with a massive applause when he entered the airport, and many young school children dressed in blue astronaut jumpsuits, cheered for him
An airshow displaying UAE flag colours lit up the skies when he stepped out of the plane.
AlMansoori's kids were also waiting outside of the airplane and cheerfully greeted their father.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, welcomes home UAE astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi. pic.twitter.com/ickFnHwlt0- MBR Space Centre (@MBRSpaceCentre) October 12, 2019
The airport was decorated with a massive photograph of AlMansoori and AlNeyadi, photos of them in their Sokol suits, a picture of the UAE space mission logo and the Soyuz rocket which took AlMansoori to space. The building also had the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's, portrait with the UAE space mission's logo next to it - representing that the 'Zayed Ambition' of reaching space has been achieved.
The Chairman of MBRSC, Hamad AlMansoori, tweeted earlier in the day: "As our first astronaut makes his way back home, we want to thank Dmitry Rogozin for his support and leadership throughout this historical journey. Rogozin, Roscosmos and their people have been instrumental to the success of our country's first astronaut mission to space."
The director-general of the UAE Space Agency, Dr Mohammed AlAhbabi, also sent out a tweet, saying that the UAE astronauts' return after this successful mission is a national achievement and puts the UAE in a "privileged position" within the international space community.
AlMansoori had said previously in a post-mission conference in Moscow: "Our message is to create a role model in the Arab region, like we saw in Yuri Gagarin and we always speak about him being first in space and he really inspired us. Now, UAE has its own astronaut and it's a great message to the next generation. And I promise that each child that saw us on the ISS, he or she will be something in the future. I hope this is just the beginning and other countries will also be interested in participating in this space exploration," he said.
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