With the ink on a normalization agreement barely dry, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are already working together to improve life in the region for more than just humans.
A UAE conservation fund and Israeli naturalists are cooperating to preserve the houbara, a desert fowl facing the threat of extinction.
The International Fund for Houbara Conservation from Abu Dhabi signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's Nature and Parks Authority and the Nature and Heritage Foundation to conduct joint research projects in efforts to save the endangered birds.
The UAE foundation has decades of experience in conservation and was the founder in 1989 of a national center for birds, that was first of its kind to study the Asian houbara population.
The center is responsible for breading approximately 64,000 chicks in the UAE, Morocco and Kazakhstan. Most chicks are set free and some have made their way through Jordan to Israel and have settled in the Arava Desert after having been extinct in that region.
But bird hunting is an age-old tradition in the UAE and the houbara is a favored trophy for hunters.
The memorandum signed with the by the foundation's representative Majid Ali al-Mansuri and Matan Vilnai, president of the Israel Nature and Heritage Foundation, outlines a five-year cooperation plan for the preservation of the houbara and other endangered species.
Ohad Hazofeh, a zoologist with the Nature and Parks Authority, says the population of houbaras found in Israel is small but genetically unique/
"It has been an endangered species for the past 20 years but has kept its numbers steady, though small," he says.
Hazofeh says that the UAE foundation requested a number of birds be sent to Dubai for breading purposes.
There are only 400 birds of this kind found in the south of the country, fighting hunters, traffic and urbanization that reduces their natural habitat.
Al-Mansuri says his foundation is honored to cooperate with Israel and profit from the knowledge accumulated here.
"We believe this cooperation will contribute to our conservation efforts and preserve the endangered birds of Israel," he says.