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December 24, 2021 2:05 pm
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UAE’s First Astronaut Gifts Israel With Israeli Flag He Brought to Space

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A man waves an Israeli flag in Ein Hemed, near Jerusalem, September 29, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.

The first Emirati astronaut to travel to space presented Israeli officials on Thursday with an Israeli flag that he brought along on his space mission two years ago.

The Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Alon Ushpiz said on Twitter that Hazzaa al-Mansoori, who traveled to the International Space Station in 2019, gifted the framed flag to Israel during his visit this week to the Jewish state’s pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Al-Mansouri is the youngest F-16 pilot in the United Arab Emirates Air Force and spent eight days in space during his 2019 mission, according to Ynet. He said at the pavilion, “I am happy to be here and present this Israeli flag to the people here and the Israeli public … This is my gift to all Israelis.”

Josh Bendit, head of the Israeli pavilion at Expo 2020, said, “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.”

The astronaut plans to visit Israel in early 2022, barring travel delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant, Ynet reported. He will be the Israeli Space Agency’s guest of honor at an upcoming international conference.

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