An astronaut from the United Arab Emirates revealed on Thursday that he took an Israeli flag with him to the International Space Station during his first mission two years ago, months before the two states normalized relations.
Hazza Al Mansouri presented the flag in a visit to the Israeli pavilion to the Dubai Expo.
Al Mansouri, the youngest F-16 pilot in the UAE Air Force, spent eight days in space during his 2019 mission. The Israeli flag was among the flags of all the countries that participated in the Expo that year.
Josh Bendit, who heads the Israeli pavilion said the visit was moving. "The flag was delivered to us with a dedication. Al Mansouri came wearing his astronaut uniform and seemed excited. His visit shows how important he finds the UAE-Israeli relations."
Israel and Dubai signed the Abraham Accords in 2020, formalizing diplomatic relations between the countries.
The Emirati astronaut said he was planning to visit Israel as early as next month, unless the coronavirus pandemic and the spread of the Omicron variant interferes.
He is scheduled to be the guest of honor of the Israeli Space Agency at an international conference.