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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Many children dream of being an astronaut, but one young Saudi boy is working tirelessly to turn his ambition into reality.
Mohammed Al-Dosari became fascinated with the subject of space exploration when he was 6. Now, aged just 10, he has his sights set on becoming one of the first Saudi astronauts to land on Mars.
Al-Dosari told Arab News that he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Saudi fighter pilot and astronaut Ali Al-Qarni by joining an elite group of Saudis who have journeyed into space.
Speaking with Arab News during the recent NASA International Space Apps Challenge hackathon in Jeddah, he said: “I have been fascinated with flying into space and becoming an astronaut, in particular, ever since I was about 6. I always thought the idea of being able to float around in space while doing science would be super-cool.”
Al-Dosari, a member of the Exoplanets team, was the youngest competitor in the event.
Explaining how he fell in love with the subject of space, he said: “One night I was staring up at the night sky, and wanting to just explore the unknown and figure out what’s out there and go and find new things.
“So, I went to the library, started to buy books on space, and also went on the Internet to search for more information.”
Al-Dosari said that the more he learns about space, “the more I’ve learned about the benefits it has for us all.”
He added: “This has made me want to contribute to the Saudi space industry in any way that I can. And, of course, it would be amazing to be on a mission one day.”
His mother, Helah Al-Zahrani, said: “My son is obsessed with space and science, and has always wanted to be an astronaut. He’s not like most children who have an ‘astronaut phase’ for a week when they are young. He is 10 now, and has loved watching space documentaries, reading books, and entering workshops to learn about space since he was 6.”
She said that her son has become a “space obsessive” and has been working hard on his studies, but also planning ahead for what he will need — and wants to achieve — as an astronaut.
Al-Dosari, who is now in the sixth grade, wants to study geography when he attends university in order to enter the world of space exploration.
Speaking about the historic day when Saudi astronauts Al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi headed to the International Space Station on May 21, the young boy said: “It was a night to remember. I was glued to our TV until the early hours just to witness that amazing moment when our astronauts entered space.
“Al-Qarni and Barnawi were not only the pride of the nation, but also a source of inspiration for millions of Saudis.”
There is more to Al-Dosari’s life than books, however. The 10-year-old also loves playing football and was recently selected by the Mahd Academy, a national sports excellence facility, to develop his skills.
“I love football and my position is goalkeeper. Hopefully, when I join Mahd Academy, I will develop my skills and become the main goalkeeper of the national team,” he said.
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