UAE's first astronaut reveals he brought Israeli flag to space

The Emirati astronaut presented the same flag he took to space to delegates of the Israeli pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020.

 Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori gestures as he gets ready at the International Space Station (ISS) in Star city in Moscow, Russia (photo credit: VIA REUTERS)
Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori gestures as he gets ready at the International Space Station (ISS) in Star city in Moscow, Russia
(photo credit: VIA REUTERS)

Hazzaa al-Mansoori, the first Emirati astronaut in space, revealed he brought an Israeli flag to his first space flight in 2019, Ynet reported.

The Emirati astronaut presented the same flag he took to space to delegates of the Israeli pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020.

al-Mansoori launched aboard the Soyuz MS-15 in September 2019, a year prior to the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"I am happy to be here and present this Israeli flag to the people here and the Israeli public," al-Mansoori said. 

"I took this flag with me two years ago on my first mission as an Emirati astronaut and this is my gift to all Israelis," he added.

 Emirati astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori (L) and Sultan Alneyad pose for a photo at The International Space Station (ISS) in Star city in Moscow, Russia June 17, 2019 (credit: VIA REUTERS) Emirati astronauts Hazzaa Al Mansoori (L) and Sultan Alneyad pose for a photo at The International Space Station (ISS) in Star city in Moscow, Russia June 17, 2019 (credit: VIA REUTERS)

The Emirati astronaut was part of Expedition 61 to the International Space Station (ISS), staying at the station for eight days before landing safely in Kazakhstan in October.

"It was a precious, touching gift to receive," said Josh Bandit, the Israeli pavilion organizer. "To come dressed in his spacesuit and visit our pavilion - it shows a genuine caring for Israelis," Bandit added.

The Expedition 61 crew included Jessica Meir, an Israeli-American astronaut who also had her first spaceflight along with al-Mansoori.

In addition, al-Mansoori stated his intent to visit Israel as early as next month, in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions. He is expected to visit the Ilan Ramon Museum and Memorial in Mitzpe Ramon during his planned stay in the Jewish state.