A Zayed University student, Abu Dhabi resident Mariam Mohamad Abdulla Hasan, had the experience of a life-time as she toured the Farnborough Airshow with Sir Richard Branson. Mariam was invited to the UK last week as the guest of Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceliner, after winning a design competition created in a partnership between Virgin Galactic andZayed University, Abu Dhabi.
Mariam was invited to attend the Farnborough Airshowto get a unique first-hand glimpse of the latest global developments in space flight technology. This is only one of many activities planned for her in the coming few months, which were designed to inspire and support UAE students as they seek answers to global challenges through science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM) and business entrepreneurship. As part of the competition prize, she will also take up an internship at Virgin Galactic’s London offices later this year.
“You can really see how fast everything is moving in the space industry here at Farnborough, you quickly realize how transformative the next decade will be,” Mariam said. “I’m very excited and looking forward to my internship at Virgin Galactic in London later this year, I feel very fortunate to be part of this generation which isprivileged to be part of Abu Dhabi’s contribution to the global space endeavor.”
Under a deal announced in 2009 between Virgin Galactic and aabar, Abu Dhabi currently has exclusive regional rights, subject to the receipt of regulatory clearances, to host Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights. Spaceport Abu Dhabi is a strategic project within the Emirate’s commitment to being an international destination of choice and a regional leader in tourism, advanced science, technology and higher education.
“Abu Dhabi is a natural base for commercial space travel,” says Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “Its geography and location are ideal for space travel and it has the clear long-term vision of becoming a centre of excellence for science, engineering and technology.”
Virgin Galactic’s development plans for commercial space flight in Abu Dhabi include a strong focus on educational initiatives and engagement with young people. Chief Advisor for Spaceport Abu Dhabi, Steve Landeene, who will be responsible for developing a roadmap for the proposed construction of a spaceport in Abu Dhabi said: “The new industry which we are helping to create will offer endless exciting opportunities for talented young Emiratis. We will need that talent in order for the industry to grow and to reach its full potential, and it is the passion, skills and effort of young visionaries like Mariam which will ensure that it does.”
David Howarth, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Design at Zayed University said: “The design competition developed by Zayed University in conjunction with Virgin Galactic, was a wonderful opportunity for our students to apply creative thinking to a unique initiative that really will change the world. The University’s mission is to contribute to the advancement of the U.A.E. through research, service, and outreach activities that advance the development of the nation’s intellectual assets. We had an amazing set of ideas and designs that were submitted. This competition was an opportunity to give our students a brief that said‘The sky is no longer the limit!’ That was a brilliant feeling.”