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Space Science and the Arab World: Astronauts, Observatories and Nationalism in the Middle East

Space Science and the Arab World: Astronauts, Observatories and Nationalism in the Middle East
Jorg Matthias Determann

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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. Joerg 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.

Author Info

Joerg Matthias Determann is Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. He is the author of Researching Biology and Evolution in the Gulf States and Historiography in Saudi Arabia (both I.B.Tauris). He has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at Zentrum Moderner Orient and Freie Universitat Berlin, and holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.


‘Exceptionally well researched, drawing on a copious array of archival and original source material in multiple languages, this book makes a significant contribution to the modern history of astronomy in the Middle East.’ - James Clay Moltz, Professor, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California

‘Jörg Matthias Determann’s book shows that space science has been a formative element of Middle East modernity. States as disparate as Nasser’s Egypt and the Gulf monarchy of Qatar have looked to the stars to further nationalist as well as internationalist agendas, mobilising the notions of “golden age” and “renaissance” in the service of a distinctively modern politics of science, industry, and military technology. Space Science and the Arab World is an exciting addition to the emerging genre of scholarship on science in the modern Middle East.’ - Daniel A Stolz, Visiting Assistant Professor, Northwestern University

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: Library of Modern Middle East Studies

ISBN: 9781788310147
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2018
Number of Pages: 224
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 5 black and white integrated illustrations

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