The United Arab Emirates has chosen the first Arab woman to coach being an astronaut, as the Gulf country rapidly expands into the room sector to diversify its economy.

Emirati national Nora al-Matrooshi, a 27-year-old mechanical design graduate currently functioning at Abu Dhabi’s National Petroleum Structure Organization, may join NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Choice Class in the United States.

The UAE consists of a space programme to produce its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil.

In February, a UAE probe achieved the orbit of the planet Mars, the Arab world’s first interplanetary expedition. The UAE has ideas to start a moon rover by 2024 and a perspective for a Mars settlement by 2117.

Matrooshi will soon be joined by another Emirati, Mohammed al-Mulla, making a total of four people beneath the UAE Astronaut Programme. They include Hazza al-Mansouri, who became the first Emirati in a room in 2019 when he flew to the Global Room Station.

Nora was among 4,300 applicants assessed on clinical characteristics, education and reasonable knowledge, and then on physical, intellectual and medical assessments, Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Room Centre (MBRSC) said.

The UAE released a National Room Programme in 2017 to make local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, nearly all of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial foot of the huge space-faring nations.

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