As part of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) program during their 25th Assembly in Riyadh this week, four Russian astronauts came to visit the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) .

They told  Saudi students that while taking  pictures of cities from space, the brightest and most beautiful cities they saw were Makkah and Madinah, especially the spots in the centers of the two holy cities.

It was astronaut Anatoly Ivanishin who made this observation during an interaction with the students.“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,” he said.

Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) ‘s Supervisor General Khalid Abdul Gader Taher hosted the astronauts and he briefed his guests on the activities of the oasis.
Ivanishin said that the view of Makkah and Madinah from outer space was a breathtaking and unprecedented spectacle and that the other cities do not look as bright at night .
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 associated with developing an interactive science center. Through the 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.

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 as blessed as you but I am trying to 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.

From a spiritual point of view,the Russian astronaut’s observation was inspiring ,  Taher added . 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 Madinah.
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 praised Prince Salman for his support for PSSO and his dedication to the noble  cause of strengthening the Kingdom’s security and development.The Kingdom’s progress may be attributed to the vision and far-sightedness of the Kingdom’s leaders, he said.

This article was originally written by ABDUL HANNAN TAGO for ArabNews