A campaign has been started to have the word najmonauts added to the English dictionary to describe Arabic Astronauts.
The Arab word ‘najm’ translates to star and the Greek word ‘naut’ means sailor.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched a mission to Mars in July while Hazza Al Mansoori became the first Emirati in space and first Arab to go to the International Space Station (ISS) last year.
Meanwhile, Sultan Al Neyadi is a reserve astronaut and two more ‘najmonauts’ will join the corps in January.
Egypt is also in the process of selecting the country’s first astronaut to go into space in the next few years.
La Bonte, who coined the word ‘najmonaut’, is chief executive of the Arab Youth Venture Foundation, an organisation collaborating with US space agency NASA for Middle East education and science exchange under an International Space Act Agreement in 2009.
She said: “The growing aspirations of the Emirates in … space exploration and planetary research represent a prime opportunity for the Arab world to introduce to the English language a new word coined in the spirit of regional pride and identity paving the way for future endeavours.”
UAE scientist Dr Mejd Alsari worked alongside La Bonte to come up with the word. They will launch a website soon to promote the initiative.
Those who fly to space are commonly called astronauts, with ‘astro’ meaning star. Russia refers to its astronauts as cosmonauts and Chinese astronauts are called taikonauts.
Romania’s first astronaut Dumitru Dorin Prunariu said: “A new name for those flying in space representing Arab states, such as ‘najmonaut’, is an individualisation and a remark that they proudly represent states with an ancient history and culture, but also with new special technological possibilities.
“However, no matter what nation they belong to and how are they named, when they reach outer space they become messengers of the entire planet Earth.”
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