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Space Science and the Arab World : Astronauts, Observatories and Nationalism in the Middle East
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When Sultan bin Salman left Earth on the shuttle Discovery in 1985, he became the first Arab, first Muslim and first member of a royal family in space. Twenty-five years later, the discovery of a planet 500 light years away by the Qatar Exoplanet Survey – subsequently named ‘Qatar-1b’ – was evidence of the cutting-edge space science projects taking place across the Middle East.
This book identifies the individuals, institutions and national ideologies that enabled Arab astronomers and researchers to gain support for space exploration when Middle East governments lacked interest. Jörg Matthias Determann shows that the conquest of space became associated with national prestige, security, economic growth and the idea of an ‘Arab renaissance’ more generally. Equally important to this success were international collaborations: to benefit from American and Soviet expertise and technology, Arab scientists and officials had to commit to global governance of space and the common interests of humanity.
Challenging the view that the golden age of Arabic science and cosmopolitanism was situated in the medieval period, Determann tells the story of the new discoveries and scientific collaborations taking place from the 19th century to the present day. An innovative contribution to Middle East studies and history of science, the book also appeals to increased business, media and political interest in the Arab space industry.