Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al-Qarni shared their unique and fabulous space journey experiences with talented Saudi male and female students. Mariam Fardous and Ali Al-Ghamdi, who were the back-up crew on the space mission of Barnawi and Al-Qarni also joined them during their audience with talented students at Mawhiba headquarters in Riyadh on Monday. Barnawi, the first Saudi and Arab woman astronaut, and Al-Qarni spent eight days on the International Space Station last May.
About 250 students of King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) attended the event while another 6,000 students from a number of schools in Riyadh attended the event virtually. The Mawhiba organized the event in partnership with the Saudi Space Agency.
The interactive session was conducted with the objective of enhancing awareness of the space sector among the new generation, as well as to strengthen relations between future and current scientists, and open new horizons for the future of space exploration in the Kingdom for talented students.
The astronauts spoke about the brilliant academic tracks that led to their pioneering roles ever since their schooldays until their association with the Saudi Space Agency. They shared the highlights of their professional scientific journey and experiences during their space voyage. The astronauts recounted the story of their struggle in pursuit of excellence in life with their passion to scale ladders in space science.
The astronauts shared all their experiences, including their training, and the transformations they experienced in their professional life, from military, medical, and laboratory studies to space. Barnawi and Al-Qarni spoke about the 14 scientific experiments that they carried out during their space voyage, which contributed to advancement in scientific research in all its specializations, and had a positive impact on the development of many programs and research to benefit humanity. They also explained the most prominent moments and activities in the journey. This trip confirms the Kingdom’s serious directives towards benefiting from this sector in all its fields, as it is a giant future sector in which global visions intersect towards sustainability, technology and scientific research, they pointed out.
Speaking on the occasion, Mawhiba Secretary General Dr. Amal Al-Hazzaa said that Saudi Arabia has long aspired to create a generation of scientists and creative leaders capable of bringing about change and progress, and to compete with the world in the field of astronomy and space. “The Kingdom has achieved its dream by sending the talented scientists into space and they created added value to the economy and development for the prosperity of humanity, strengthened the Kingdom’s international competitiveness in the promising space sector, and explored its secrets from the perspective of science and humanity,” she said.
The meeting of the talented students with the astronauts was an extension of the previous scientific experiments in which the students participated, which focused on the experiment of the spread of liquid colors, focusing on fluid mechanics; the space kite experiment, focusing on aerodynamics; and the experiment with heat transfer patterns, focusing on the methods of heat transfer.
The experiments witnessed instantaneous and direct interaction between the astronauts and the students while conducting the experiments, through direct communication between the two sides. The students had the opportunity to ask the astronauts questions regarding the experiments, and to compare the results of their experiments on Earth with those conducted by the Saudi space crew aboard the International Space Station.
It is noteworthy that Mawhiba identifies gifted students every year through the National Gifted Identification Program, after which various care programs are provided to hone their skills and enhance their talent and abilities.