In September 2019 – exactly one year before the Abraham agreements between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi were signed – Hazza al-Mansouri set out on his first mission in space. It now turns out that he also carried the Israeli flag with him – which he now wanted to give to Israelis as a gift. “Very exciting”
In September 2020, history was recorded in the Middle East, when the “Abraham Agreement” was signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It now turns out that many months before the agreement was signed, it was Hazza al-Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut, to take with him to the International Space Station no less than the Israeli flag.
This morning (Thursday) al-Mansouri visited the Expo fair which is currently taking place in Dubai. When he arrived at the Israeli pavilion, he gave the representatives as a gift the flag he had taken with him for his first mission on the space station. “I am happy to be here and to give the Israeli flag as a gift to the people here and to the public in Israel,” al-Mansouri said. “I took this flag with me two years ago on my first mission, as a said astronaut who flew into space – so this is a gift for all Israelis.”
al-Mansouri is a fighter pilot in the Emirate Air Force and is considered the youngest F-16 fighter pilot in the Emirates. In September 2019, he flew to the space station aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, and stayed at the station for eight days. When he returned, he landed in Kazakhstan. The Emirati astronaut not only took with him the Israeli flag – but the flags of all the countries that took part in the fair that year.
“It was very exciting to bring it, it’s a precious gift,” said Josh Bendit, director of the Israeli pavilion in Dubai. “To come dressed as an astronaut, to visit the Israeli pavilion when he is excited and to bring us the framed Israeli flag with a dedication – it shows caring. To come and show how important the connection with Israel is.”
al-Mansouri told those present that he intends to arrive in Israel in January 2022. If the Corona and the Omicron strain do not disrupt his plans, he is expected to be the guest of honor at the Israeli Space Week organized by the Israel Space Agency – and attend the Ilan Ramon International conference.