According to reports , Saudi Arabia will send its first female astronaut on a space mission later this year, the latest step in a campaign to change the country’s reputation as an ultra-conservative nation.
According to the official Saudi Press Agency, Rayyana Barnawi will travel to the International Space Station with Ali Al-Qarni, another male Saudi astronaut, “around the second quarter of 2023.”
The space mission will “launch from the US,” it was claimed, and the astronauts “will join the crew of the AX-2 space mission.”
The monarchs of the Gulf have been working on various programmes to diversify their largely reliant on oil economies.
Through a push for reforms, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also been attempting to shed the nation’s reputation for austerity.
Saudi Arabia’s foray into space is far from the first, though.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, an air force pilot who took part in a US-led space mission in 1985, became the first Arab Muslim to journey into space.
Saudi Arabia established a space programme in 2018 and started another one to send astronauts into space in 2017.