Emirati girl hopes to be among the first astronauts to travel to Mars


thenational.ae - DUBAI // When Alia Al Mansouri grows up, she hopes to become one of the first Emirati astronauts of her generation to travel to Mars. The 14-year-old from Dubai was one of many pupils who attended the Project Space conference yesterday where female scientists and space experts discussed the need for more women in the industry.

Of the 537 people who have travelled into space so far, only 60 have been women. But the trend is changing, according to Dr Sara Al Maeeni, an expert in space communication and research at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, where 40 per cent of the employees are female.

"We’d like to increase that number," said Dr Al Maeeni, who joined the centre last year.

"The UAE has been very supportive of women. The leaders have always given tremendous support to women and established organisations to empower women, encouraging them to go into education in every possible way and we can see now that women are everywhere."

She said the country’s ministries were led by powerful female figures trying to empower youth to create their own future.