Three Russian astronauts who visited the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO)
this week told Saudi students
that the brightest and beautiful cities they saw - while taking a
picture of some beautiful cities from outer space, were Makkah and Madinah, specifically the spots in the centers of the two holy
These astronauts came as part of the Association of Space
Explorers (ASE) program during their 25th Assembly in Riyadh this
“When you are in outer space, we take photos during the day for
good visibility and shot, but at night it is difficult to take
pictures because you have to use a special technique. In spite of
this, I managed to take many pictures of various cities at night.
I was amazed to find that the cities of Makkah and Madinah
outshone other cities around the world,” observed astronaut
Anatoly Ivanishin during an interaction with the students.
astronauts were hosted at the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO)
by the PSSO’s Supervisor General Khalid Abdul Gader Taher who
briefed his guests on the activities of the oasis.
Ivanishin said that other cities do not look bright at night but
the view of Makkah and Madinah from outer space was a breathtaking
and unprecedented spectacle, according to a report in Arab News.
The four Russian astronauts who visited the oasis are Andrey
Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and their
interpreter Boris Meshcherykov. PSSO is a nonprofit organization
charged with developing an interactive science center.
science center and associated activities, PSSO aims to improve
public awareness of science and to promote scientific knowledge
and its practical applications in terms of promoting peace and how
this knowledge can benefit mankind as a whole.
Oasis seeks to
inspire people with the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge
and technology in ways that respect cultural diversity and
freedom. PSSO is affiliated to Riyadh Philanthropic Society for
Science, a nonprofit organization headed by Crown Prince Salman.
An executive council for PSSO was established to supervise and
guide the development of this project and provide the necessary
support at both private and government levels.
This council is headed by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of
the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and
founding member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the
host of the 25 the association assembly.
In his welcoming note,
the mayor of Madinah said : "You are not Russians, you are
earthlings, I am not a Saudi man, I am an earthling and we are
brothers in the service of humanity. You people are so blessed
because out of seven billion people on Earth you were able to go
to space and understand the universe around you."
"This is the
difference, you see the big picture. I am not blessed as you but I
am trying to see the picture, you see the big picture through your
hearts and through your eyes. I only see the picture from my
heart. You are blessed that's why when you say that you have that
bright picture of Madinah you are showing me something very
precious. You are going through the philosophy of life to make a
difference in your research in medicine, helping communication,
transportation and environment and so on", he added.
sidelines of the meeting, Taher told Arab News that the Russian
astronaut’s observation was inspiring from a spiritual point of
view. He said the noteworthy point was how, amid thousands of
cities on the Earth, the brightest lights he saw from space were
the ones coming from Makkah and Madinah.
“To me spiritually we understand that and we realize it. And I
really wish and ask the Almighty Allah to help us that the light
he saw up there as shiny for him will also be shiny for the rest
of the world,” said the official, who was a former mayor of
He said: “The visit of these astronauts means a lot for
our country. We should really admire, respect and praise so highly
the efforts of the Kingdom and Custodian of Two Holy Mosques for
his vision and his continued work not only to serve his own people
or the Muslims but the entire world. We see every day a new
initiative,” he observed.
Taher also paid tribute to Prince Salman for his support for PSSO
and his dedication to the cause of strengthening the Kingdom’s
security and development.
“Prince Sultan bin Salman himself
has set a good example for the Saudi youth through his dedication,
creativity and commitment. These people are coming to our country
for the second time. The first time was when the association was
launched. Prince Sultan as founding member maintains good
relations with these renowned scientists and astronauts for the
benefit of the younger generation in the Kingdom.”
He attributed the Kingdom’s progress
to the long-term vision and far-sightedness of the Kingdom’s
leadership. They have relied on the Islamic law to steer the
country on the path of progress, modernity and prosperity without
losing its cultural ethos.