A couple of months ago, the UAE announced it had recruited the very first female Emirati astronaut who was revealed to be Nora Al Matrooshi.

Alongside Mohammad Al Mulla, the duo make up the second batch of astronauts as part of the UAE’s space program. The pair recently made their first public media appearance at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre where they both discussed their honour and pride at being recruited into the space program.

As Al Matrooshi’s recruitment such a history-making moment for women in the region, we’ve compiled some of the key things you need to know about her.

Her inspiring words

During her first media appearance on July 7, Al Matrooshi shared some particularly inspiring words with the Dubai Media Office.

 

“My message to everyone is if I can do it, you can do it,” she said. “And if no one has done it before then you can just go ahead and be the first, because if you have the ambition and drive you will find opportunities everywhere at any time.”

 

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She is the first female Arab astronaut

Following her recruitment into the space program, Al Matrooshi has become the first female not only in the UAE but in the Arab world to become an astronaut.

But it was never her goal to be “the first”

While the 28-year-old has become the first female Emirati and Arab astronaut, it was never her main goal to do so. While she was selected from over 4,000 candidates, she “didn’t really think about the fact there was no female astronaut [from the Arab world] before” her.

“My main goal was to become an astronaut,” she said. “It wasn’t to be the first, or the second or the last.” Al Matrooshi, along with her colleague Al Mulla, simply wants to make into space and walk on the moon.

She received a public congratulations from Sheikh Mohammed

Upon the announcement of her recruitment as an astronaut for the UAE, Al Matrooshi received a public congratulations from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“We announce the first Arab female astronaut, among two new astronauts, selected from over 4,000 candidates to be trained with NASA for future space exploration missions,” His Highness said. “Congratulations Noura Al Matrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla.”

She previously trained as an engineer

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UAE University in 2015, Sharjah-born Al Matrooshi gained several years of experience in the field.

Al Matrooshi also previously represented the UAE at the United Nations Youth Conference in summer 2018 and winter 2019.

She comes from a family of sailors, but she’s reaching the stars

During the recent press conference, Al Matrooshi explained that she comes from a family of sailors on her mother’s side.

“My mum’s side of the family are sailors,” she said. “I’d say they explored the ocean. The term ‘astronaut’ means ‘star sailor’ in Greek.”

She’s one of four astronauts representing the UAE

Both Al Matrooshi and Al Mulla join the UAE Astronaut Programme with four astronauts in total now including Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi who were previously recruited.

She’s been dreaming of becoming an astronaut since she was a child

“I first started dreaming of becoming an astronaut when my teacher in kindergarten asked us to build a tent and pretend it was a spacecraft that was taking us to the Moon,” she said during the recent press conference. “Since then I’ve become extremely passionate about becoming an astronaut.”

“I’ve been working in the oil and gas field for several years, but my dream about becoming an astronaut never went away,” she continued. “This is a life-changing opportunity. The dream I’ve had since a child has come true. Now, I’ve started dreaming bigger.”

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