Farouk El-Baz

Most Americans could name the first man to step foot on the Moon, but few might know the man who picked the spot where that “giant leap for mankind” was to take place. In 1969, American geologist Farouk El-Baz stood in Mission Control and watched Armstrong and Aldrin descend toward the landing site he selected. Five years later, this important scientist would recount how he felt when a human first walked on the Moon during a meeting with the UAE’s Founding Father and first President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

An expert in remote sensing technology, Dr. El-Baz helped NASA plan and identify the locations for all six human landings on the Moon. He went on to establish the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. His accolades include the NASA Apollo Achievement Award and, perhaps unexpectedly, a shuttlecraft featuring his namesake in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s 1988-1989 season.

Dr. El-Baz was tapped by the US State Department as a science ambassador to the Middle East where he was first introduced to Sheikh Zayed. The pair shared a common passion for science and discovery that would see El-Baz return to the UAE twice more, this time bringing along crew members of Apollo 15 & 17 to meet the sheikh. Hear from Dr. El-Baz as he shares personal moments from those historic meetings.