Sky isn’t the limit for Sara Sabry – first Arab woman from Africa to go to space

First Egyptian woman astronaut on a mission to make space more accessible to everyone

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

There’s a saying that “seeing is believing.” And for the truly enterprising ones, the exploration bit doesn’t merely stop at “seeing,” but they would go the extra mile to encourage others to “see” too, and savor what they would rate as an experience of a lifetime.

Sara Sabry never imagined that one day she would be able to travel to space. But in 2022, she made history by becoming the first Egyptian, the first Arab, and the first woman from the African continent to travel to outer space.

Mission accomplished. Yes. But Sara wouldn’t stop at that and is now determined to play facilitator for those millions of space enthusiasts and space explorers around the world who, quite like her, dare to dream.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“I knew that there was so much more out there and that I was always the dreamer. [But growing up], we did not have astronauts [in Egypt], we did not have rocket launches, and we were always told it was not for us,” she told Al Arabiya English ahead of the panel discussion at the Web Summit Qatar in Doha, the inaugural event of the summit in the Middle East.

With a background in engineering and being a fully trained astronaut, the 30-year-old was selected by the not-for-profit organization Space for Humanity from a pool of thousands of applicants to participate in the journey aboard New Shepard, the rocket crafted by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin NS, in August 2022.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin on August 4, 2022, launched six people to space, including the first from Egypt and Portugal, on the company's sixth crewed flight. (Blue Origin)
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin on August 4, 2022, launched six people to space, including the first from Egypt and Portugal, on the company's sixth crewed flight. (Blue Origin)

A moment of epiphany

The flight to space has had a profound impact on Sara. “It changed how I see everything. It changed how I see the earth, the scale of its problems, the scale of us as humanity, and our interconnectedness,” she added.

Since her return from space, Sara has been on a mission to make journeys beyond the atmosphere more accessible for everyone through her company, Deep Space Initiative (DSI).

“I decided to start this company to address the problem of inaccessibility,” she said, adding: “As an Egyptian, I know how it feels to be on this side (of the world). I see a US citizen work at NASA, apply there and become an astronaut. But I could never relate to that,” she said, speaking of the inaccessibility in the space field.

Sara Sabry, the first Egyptian, the first Arab and the first woman astronaut from the African continent is on a mission to make the space more accessible to everyone. (Supplied)
Sara Sabry, the first Egyptian, the first Arab and the first woman astronaut from the African continent is on a mission to make the space more accessible to everyone. (Supplied)



Now pursuing a PhD in Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota, Sabry says the space industry is unfairly inaccessible, with very few opportunities for people who are not European or US citizens, and hence she founded DSI.

DSI is a not-for-profit organization with a global community of more than 200 researchers and educators who are overseeing about 53 projects related to asteroids, space architecture, and space arbitration systems, according to Sabry.

“Not everyone has $20,000 to pay for a course, and not everyone has courses that are related to the space field in their home countries,” she further said.



Eligible people can apply with DSI’s free resources, irrespective of their nationalities, to get mentored and work on space research, and such “international collaboration will only deepen our understanding of space,” she added.

Representation and accessibility

The space industry has long been an elitist field, and “it makes absolutely no sense that some lives have specific opportunities, and some don’t just because of where they are born,” Sabry said. “Seeing representation is so important because it gives you a sense of confidence and a sense of belonging.”

“We need to be looking at Earth just like what it looks like from space, with no borders,” she added.

As she became the first female African astronaut to enter space, according to Sabry, the first thing she said when she returned to earth from space was that “EVERYONE needs to see this, everyone,” and went on to add: “Being first is not everything. It’s what you do with it [that matters]. It’s how many others are going to come after [you]. So that’s my goal now.”

Read more:

Regional collaboration, robust laws aid rapid development of Middle East space sector

With an eye on the global space market, India to allow 100 pct FDI in sector

Saudi creatives unveil cutting-edge immersive tech prototypes at Ithra

Top Content Trending