Dubai, Sep 22: Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it will launch a training program with the goal of sending its own astronauts, including a woman, into space next year.

The kingdom is actively promoting science and technology as part of its wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to overhaul its economy and reduce its dependency on oil.

The plan, championed by Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also calls for greater integration of women into the workforce of the conservative Muslim country. Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on women driving in 2018.

The Saudi Astronaut Program, which is an integral part of the Kingdom's ambitious Vision 2030, will send Saudi astronauts into space to help better serve humanity, the Saudi Space Commission said in a statement.

One of the astronauts will be a Saudi woman, whose mission to space will represent a historical first for the Kingdom.

The first Arab or Muslim to travel to space was Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan bin Salman, a half-brother of the crown prince and an air force pilot who was part of the seven-member crew of NASA's Discovery mission in 1985. He later served as head of the Saudi Space Commission from 2018 until last year, when he was appointed an adviser to King Salman.

The neighbouring United Arab Emirates has the Arab world's leading space program, having launched a probe into Mars' orbit in February 2021.

The UAE plans to launch its first lunar rover in November. If the moon mission succeeds, the UAE and Japan, which is providing the lander, would join the ranks of only the US, Russia and China as nations that have put a spacecraft on the lunar surface.

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Chandigarh, Sep 29: With cases of dog attacks reported from "many places", the Panchkula Municipal Corporation has banned the "ferocious" pitbull and rottweiler breeds of dogs as pets within the city limits, officials said on Thursday.

A decision to this effect was taken during a meeting of the MC House on Thursday, Mayor Kulbushan Goyal told reporters in Panchkula.

He said there were 24 agenda points before the meeting and all were passed by the House.

"As far as the issue pertaining to dogs was concerned, those pet owners who do not get their dogs registered will be fined Rs 2,000. Besides, two ferocious dog breeds have been banned in the city. Pitbull and rottweiler breeds have also been banned in many other cities and in Panchkula too they have been banned," the Mayor said.

He said there have been cases of dog attacks especially by these dog breeds at many places, and that people were bothered about this.