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How UAE’s First Astronaut will Celebrate Emirati Culture in Space

Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi. Twitter @MBRSpaceCentre

For the first time in history, Emirati culture will be witnessed in zero gravity as UAE’s first astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori takes a bit of home to space with him.

In this breakthrough moment, Al Mansoori will be hosting a traditional Emirati night in the International Space Station with classic dishes such as madrooba, a salted fish seasoned with spices; balaleet, a customary breakfast dish of egg and vermicelli; and saloona, a spicy vegetable stew with either meat or fish. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre confirms that Al Mansoori will also be dressed in a Kandura to perfectly represent his country.

“I’m honored to be the first astronaut to host an Emirati night onboard the ISS to promote the Emirati culture, which I am proud to belong to, and share some delicious Emirati food like madrooba, saloona, and balaleet, which I’m sure they will like,” said the astronaut in a statement.

Al Mansoori is preparing for the Soyuz MS-15 mission, which will take place from September 25 to October 3. While the 35-year-old is the main astronaut, he will also be joined by UAE’s back-up astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi. As they prepare for their landmark journey in Star City, Russia, both the Emiratis have spent one to two hours daily for a week to taste 200 different types of halal food. “We enjoyed our experience in tasting Emirati foods prepared for space, but the taste of the food prepared for space varies compared to the food we eat on earth,” said Al Mansoori.

The Russian Space Food Laboratory has created a special menu for the first Emirati astronauts. Along with traditional Emirati food, there are appetizers such as soups and cheese, as well as, chicken or beef for main courses. Additionally, the meals will include desserts and drinks such as tea and juices. The food items in space are either in the form of a paste, which has to be directly consumed and can’t be heated; or in solid and dry forms, which can be heated with special equipment.

“The astronaut’s meals are prepared according to specific requirements to provide balanced nutrition while ensuring that they are easy to carry, store, and use in a non-gravitational environment. These foods are processed at high temperatures to be stored for long periods,” said Al Mansoori.

The 35-year-old has a 14-year experience in military aviation and is an FCF pilot on the F16-B60. He will be accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and American astronaut Jessica Meir to carry out several scientific experiments in space.

This is the beginning of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s long term vision: “Our objective is to show the world that we are able to contribute to humanity through quality knowledge and scientific discoveries.”

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