Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

An Iranian in Space and Iranians on Earth - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Those who logged on to Arabic websites in the past few days were probably shocked at the twenty million dollars paid by a woman of Iranian origin to travel into space on the Russian spacecraft, Soyuz.

On the other hand, nobody protests the amount of money that is squandered on Iranian ventures for weapons that have spread over half of the Arab Orient at the expense of the revenues of its own people. Furthermore, billions of dollars have been spent on producing and protecting nuclear weapons in Iran.

However, because space technology is one of the least important subjects in the Middle East where some areas are do not even know what a light bulb is, it is clear that there is little interest in this topic. Nevertheless, it is not absent from the minds of the educated youth, as it has caused controversy in Iran itself and within the large Iranian community that had migrated following the Islamic revolution and never returned to its homeland as it objected to the weak internal political and economic situations. Most Iranians living outside of Iran do not politically oppose the Iranian system, contrary to what their relocation may suggest, rather, they believe that the internal political situation does not guarantee them the basics for life since the Islamic Republic still suffers from the revolutionary condition that is represented in laws that prohibit travel, money transfers, civil rights and so on. Perhaps this largely explains why the Iranian government has failed to praise the first female space tourist because she represents the migrant community rather than scientific development.

Anousheh Ansari is the first female space tourist in history. This fact deserves appreciation as the journey itself is dangerous and there are a number of scientific requirements to be met, not only financial requisites. The journey requires physical and moral courage unlike other missions that involve detonating oneself in a crowded market, killing hundreds of innocent people and funded by various terrorist parties.

I understand that such a comparison may be completely invalid however; we are facing real examples in the region of people who are ready and willing to risk their lives to experience outer space and take part in scientific experiments while others commit horrific crimes killing women and children. The comparison is between those who are prepared to give everything that they own to promote their country and its aspirations on one hand, and governments that spend half of the nation’s income on increasing its weapons and embroiling the region in mass destruction. This is where the difference between civilization and backwardness lies, not to mention the difference between humane activity and abominable crimes. It is for this reason that we should be proud of all sources of inspiration for beneficial activity.

Twenty million dollars were spent by the Ansari family so Anousheh could experience ten days in space and claim the title of the first female space tourist. All this will be noted in modern history with more than one orientation; a Middle Eastern woman of Iranian origin [in space] and a project that it is only in its primary stages in which Ansari will take part in medical and biological experiments.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

More Posts