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Namira Salim to become the first Pakistani to visit space



Pakistani artist and diplomat, Namira Salim likes who was the first Pakistani to travel to the North and South poles, will soon become the first Pakistani to travel into space. “I’ve been inspired to do more,” she told the Orlando Sentinel while on a trip to Cocoa Beach for the Apollo 11 moon landing 50th anniversary. “So first of all, I think I should go as far as possible on Earth before I break the orbit.”

With a $200,000 ticket on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flights, she is on the right path.

Salim, 44, became one of the founding members of billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company back near its inception in 2006. She was one of tens of thousands of people who applied to go on the flights to the edge of space and spent about a year in negotiations to ensure she was selected — so she could snag her “first.”

But don’t get her wrong, Salim isn’t your typical starry-eyed entrepreneur with deep pockets.

After getting a bachelors degree in international business from Hofstra University and a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University, Salim returned to Pakistan to become the founding president of the nation’s first International Association of Students in Economics and Business Management, a cultural exchange program that works with the United Nations.

She moved to Monaco in 1997, where she worked to improve diplomatic relations between the two nations. In 2011, she became the first Honorary Consul of Pakistan to the Principality of Monaco.

Her sculptural art pieces focus on the theme of peace, while her upcoming jewelry line is based on the constellations.

And, in the 13 years that have passed since she made her deposit with Virgin, she’s continued to promote space tourism and privatization of space. Her non-profit, Space Trust, was launched in 2015 to promote peace through space travel and it set up the 0G Summit to encourage international cooperation in space. It’s pushing to set up the first peace summit in orbit by 2030.

And soon, Salim may finally be heading to the cosmos. Virgin sent its first passengers — members of its staff — to space this year on test flights aboard its SpaceShipTwo from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

The Sentinel sat down with Salim during her stay on the Space Coast to talk about her dreams of space, the changes she’s witnessed in space tourism and the future of diversity in space. (The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.)

Tell us about your background — how was it growing up in Pakistan and when did your interest in space begin?

My father was in the army and it was my father who first introduced me to the stars. But even before that, I always said that I was born with the dream of going to space. It makes my DNA. When I was little, I used to cry and I told my parents said, “I don’t want to play with toys, send me to space.”

So when I was a teenager, my father showed me the pole star. And he showed me all the northern constellations. I would just spend my evenings during my high school and my secondary school days stargazing on the rooftop of my house in Dubai.

I would tell cousins and friends that I would grow up to become an astronaut. And honestly, I had no idea how I was going to do it. I used to be so inspired that the first two initials of my first name and last name, like n-a and s-a, is like NASA. And that was my closest association to NASA.

I used to think, ‘I’m so privileged. My name is like NASA, you know, I’m going to go to space one day.’

So it was meant to be for you.

Yeah. Then, you know, it just happens when it’s meant to be. And when you believe in it so strongly.

So I was in Monaco doing some work on my computer and I came across the news that Virgin and Richard [Branson] were going to launch the first private spaceflight [company]. And I just picked up the phone and I called our commercial director and I told him, I said, ‘Listen, I want to join, but you know, I want to be the first one from Pakistan, first from Monaco.’ There were 44,000 applicants.

And you know, I mean, there was a selection process. I joined in January 2006. And in March 2006, Richard came to Dubai to launch Virgin Galactic and since I was the first customer from the [United Arab Emirates], he actually invited me and he launched Virgin Galactic with me. And then the government of Pakistan invited me and can you imagine a little girl growing up in Pakistan, thinking of going to space, was launched by the country on the national level as the “First Pakistani Astronaut.”

That is a bit too much. I mean, dreams do come true, I guess. This is like really impossible stuff. We have a country of 200 million people and to have this title — it means a lot.

Spaceflight often takes a really long time. It’s been over a decade since you signed up with Virgin. How have you seen space tourism evolve in that time?

Now we have Blue Origin that’s really caught up. And there were times when people thought that maybe Blue Origin will be the first. But there’s no race here. Everybody’s focused on the safety of operations and nobody wants to be the first as such. Virgin is still, however, the first. They’re ahead of the game and they have done two human spaceflights recently to space.

We in this suborbital spaceflight community are very supportive of each other. I don’t think that I’ve seen any, in my experience, cutthroat competition. It’s about achieving a milestone. It’s about that giant leap for the consumer market into space. So whoever does it, we have to support them, because it’s going to help anyone who’s dreamt of going to space in the future. It’s not just about my spaceflight, it’s about what I’m doing to create this opportunity for the masses.

What do you think about the opportunities there are now for women in this field? What do you think we should be doing to be able to include not just women, but other ethnicities, too, and more diversity in aerospace?

Returning the next man to the moon and the first woman to the moon [under NASA’s Artemis program] is an amazing thing. It’s really inspirational to see that happen.

But my message is that, now that they’re engaging international partners and other countries, they need to provide opportunities for other nationalities, women from other countries, especially developing countries, who don’t have their own space programs, to fly to space on an orbital flight.

You’re a person who has travelled to places that a lot of people haven’t been to, and I imagine you have a connection with the Earth, as well, because of that. There’s a lot of people who say maybe we should be investing a little less on spaceflight and a little bit more on our planet. How do you reconcile those two ideas?

I think people don’t realize how important space technologies are in our daily lives. People think space is alien, it has nothing to do with us on Earth.

But look at our cell phones, look at our navigation systems in the cars, look at what’s happening at the International Space Station for medical breakthroughs, for the environment, for greenhouse experiments, for disaster risk reduction, for disaster management.

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Delay in diagnosis can result in long term disability



An awareness seminar to highlight the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis was conducted at the Governor house Punjab, with joint collaboration of Arthritis Care Foundation and Scotmann Pharmaceuticals here in Lahore on Sunday 21 November.

The seminar was chaired by the honorable Governor of Punjab Chaudry Muhammad Sarwar, with awareness sessions conducted by chairperson Arthritis Care Foundation, Prof. Nighat Mir Ahmed, Co-chairperson Prof. Sumaira Farman Raja, and Co-chairperson and General Secretary, Prof. Muhammad Ahmed Saeed, and Dr. Saira E. A. Khan.

According to research done by the Arthritis Care Foundation with funding by World Health Organization, approximately 1 out of every 4th person is suffering from some kind of inflammatory joint disease.  If not diagnosed early, these conditions can result in long-term disability, like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. State of the art department of Rheumatology with international standards and equipment has been initiated at the Central Park Teaching Hospital, served by highly skilled and qualified specialists and staff. Central Park Teaching Hospital also provides free treatment services for deserving patients with the support of the Arthritis Care Foundation.


The seminar highlighted the role of Vitamin D, diet, and exercise for healthy bones and joints, arthritis in children, young and elderly, and the common causes of back pain.

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Peng Salon celebrates Children’s Day, inviting Children Cancer patients for a Spa Day



This Children’s Day, Peng Salon & Spa, one of the leading hair & skin clinics in Karachi came up with a thoughtful initiative for children suffering from cancer. They invited these young cancer warriors from Indus Hospital for a Spa Day at the salon to mark Children’s Day celebrations. The children were treated with professional salon & spa services for a relaxing & refreshing experience.



Kaneez Fiza & Nafisa Dawood, Incharge at the Psychosocial department at Indus Hospital, who accompanied the children stated that the children were happy and it was an amazing experience for the children as well as their team at the Peng Salon. According to Kaneez, it was the first time for the children that they had visited a salon and they loved every bit of it and were overjoyed with the experience.

These children, fighting their battle against Cancer, are dreamers – full of innocence, hope and happiness. These little angels enjoyed the services of their choice at the salon and they were all smiles with the kind of pampering they were provided with. Services such as Haircut, hair styling, manicure, pedicure, makeup etc. were provided that made their day extra special.


After going through months of grueling treatment, giving these brave warriors such a day was a thoughtful initiative by Peng Salon. Arranging a Spa Day on Children’s Day for these young children to give them moments of joy and happiness was a wonderful idea by the team. Their aim to make these children feel valued, loved and special while helping them make cherishing memories.

Children were overwhelmed with the services they were provided and were all smiles as they left for the hospital again. Thumbs up to Peng Salon for initiating such a thoughtful activity to celebrate Children’s Day!

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5 motivational thoughts to get you motivated by Canadian-Pakistani CEO, Muneeb Mushtaq



Canadian Pakistani CEO and motivational speaker Muneeb Mushtaq has given us many insightful and empowering thoughts over the years on the basis of his experiences as a young and dynamic businessman. The tech tycoon has been the founder of three tech business ventures and has managed to achieve so much at such a young age. And, he has given back his learning and knowledge by motivating, educating, and mentoring people to be successful in life.

Here are some motivational thoughts by the Forbes awarded entrepreneur Muneeb Mushtaq to get you motivated and beat the Monday blues:


  1. Get rid of the useless and negative clutter in your life


Muneeb Mushtaq suggests that it is important to subtract some of the unnecessary things from life to realise how insignificant they are. He advises us to get away from the insignificant and negative clutter in order to see an immediate positive impact. Worrying about what others think of us, trying to please everyone are some of the unimportant things we need to remove as soon as possible. According to him “When you remove what’s negative, it’ll add more space for what’s POSITIVE”!


  1. Don’t wait, just take the first step


The successful entrepreneur recommends us not to wait for other people or for the perfect moment to do what you have always wanted to do. There will never be a perfect time, situation or circumstances that would make you start working on your dreams. He advises us to just take the first step and get started.


  1. Failure is the opportunity to start over again, more wisely


The dynamic businessman is also of the view that failure provides an invaluable experience that makes it more likely to get success the next time around. He explains: “Till the time you don’t give up, the failures are just learning experiences, helping you to eventually succeed.”


  1. Respect the competition


Muneeb Mushtaq also shares this motivational thought that competition should be embraced and should be used as a driving force to push you further rather than fearing it. Competition is also a validation that there is a massive market and opportunity in the space to grow further.


  1. Change is important

Another motivating thought from Muneeb Mushtaq is that if you want change in life, then you should also be willing to change. He says, “If you are not willing to change, don’t expect your life to either”.

Follow Muneeb Mushtaq on Instagram @MuneebMushtaq for regular motivational posts.


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