In August 2013, I found Mars One by accident online. It didn't take me long to realize this was what I've been waiting for -- and less than an hour later, I was pressing the submit application button.
I've always wanted to be an astronaut, since I was little. Astronauts are heroes, but no one knew about that dream of mine. Sadly nobody ever noticed, not even at school.
Living in Cairo, Egypt, all my life, I noticed we do not engage in space exploration at all as a nation. Not just in Egypt, but in the entire Middle East, I would say.
That's weird given our history. I'm fascinated by the pharaohs. They were geniuses -- they were arguably the greatest, most advanced civilization in the ancient world. They basically knew everything about everything. For instance, they used astronomy to build all their monuments, and everything was calculated according to the Earth's rotation and the stars.
Nothing was random -- even the location of the pyramids wasn't random. I felt offended that today we represent nothing in the space industry, especially knowing that my ancestors once were top of the list.
After thousands of people applied for Mars One from all over the world, only 1,058 were chosen by December 2013 for round two. I was one of them. I was shocked when I received that email. I probably read it 10 times, with one thought crossing my mind.
I don't have a technical background. I'm not a scientist. I don't have a PhD. I'm not an engineer. I've never even seen a rocket or a space suit!
I was so proud of myself, because originally I didn't believe in myself. I immediately told my friends that I was chosen for round two in a project that targets sending astronauts to Mars. I was so happy delivering the news, but after a two-second pause, one said: "Astronaut? Mars? You? HAHAHA!"
They kept on laughing hilariously at me for maybe an hour. I didn't know what to feel -- I was laughing along, but no one was taking me seriously. They didn't even bother to ask for any details -- they must've thought I was drunk, and these are my closest friends! Can you imagine?
But applying for Mars One changed so much in my life. I now eat better, sleep better, read books, watch documentaries. I'm basically educating myself because I believe so much in an idea that is noble, an idea that I want to be part of. It changed the way I look at things, and after I was chosen again among only 100 candidates, it changed the way people look at me... especially because I'm the only representative of the Arab world and the Middle East in the program
My closest friends are now my biggest supporters, and probably prouder of me than I am. They even read about space.
Ideas are so powerful, they can change an entire community.
In my case... it just might start one. On Mars!