Sultan Al Neyadi – the first Muslim to perform a spacewalk

5/9/2023 8:20 PM

Sultan Al Neyadi made history when he became the first Muslim to walk in space just over a week ago.

The Emirati astronaut performed the spacewalk with colleague Stephen Bowen outside the International Space Station (ISS) on April 28, a Friday - the day of Jumuah.

Al Neyadi conducted a six-and-a-half-hour maintenance mission, which included retrieving an antenna outside the ISS and preparing a structure on the station’s exterior for a future solar array installation.  

Performing spacewalks is one of the most dangerous tasks astronauts undertake during space missions.

A live stream from NASA captured the astronaut floating in space, secured by a rope, as they performed intricate repair work in their bulky spacesuits in the darkness.

“After completing my first spacewalk, I am humbled by the experience, said Al Neyadi on Twitter afterwards. "Here’s a time-lapse capturing one of my most surreal moments on the ISS. Thank you to everyone for the unwavering support. Onward to new frontiers.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on Twitter: "The first Emirati, first Arab and first Muslim to walk in outer space ... proud of that.

"They say that two-thirds of the stars in the sky bear Arabic names. Arabs are capable... Arabs are coming... Arabs are creative, if we decide to focus on science and invest in youth."

The Emirati will be accompanied by two Saudi astronauts in the spring, including the first woman from the Arab world to go to space — Rayyannah Barnawi.

Ramadan in space

On March 3, Al Neyadi embarked on the six-month expedition — the Arab world’s first long-duration space mission.

He spent the sacred month of Ramadan in space and captured a view of Makkah and Madinah on the 27th night.

In a news conference before his mission, Al Neyadi said he would observe some fasts if the opportunity arose. He also explained how he meets the definition of a "traveller."

“I’m in the definition of a traveller, and we can actually break fast and it’s not compulsory.

“And, actually, fasting is not compulsory if you’re not feeling well. Eating sufficient food is allowed if lack of food, nutrition or dehydration can jeopardise the mission, or maybe put a crew member at risk.”

On Eid al-Fitr, he sent greetings from space along with his mascot, Suhail.  

“On this blessed occasion I send my warmest greetings to my family, friends, and everyone back on Earth. May this special occasion bring you peace, happiness, and prosperity. Eid Mubarak!”