Israeli and UAE space agencies sign agreements

24 October 2021

The UAE Space Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and two letters of intent with Israel Space Agency.

The agreement was signed on 20 October, during Expo 2020 Dubai's Space Week, by Sarah bint Yousef al-Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chair of UAE Space Agency; and Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Israel's Innovation, Science & Technology Minister.

Speaking exclusively to MEED, Farkash-Hacohen said that this partnership is the first step towards several initiatives in the science and technology sector.

"Today, we signed cooperation agreements with regards to space [technology], but I know that there is already a dialogue between our innovation authority and its counterpart here in the emirates," she said. "We are open to collaboration – we see the UAE as true allies and friends, and I think there is great potential for both nations to benefit."

Farkash-Hacohen also said that there will be a greater exchange of technology and science professionals between the two nations in the coming years, especially as Israel faces the global shortfall in technology talent.

"We have already established ties on the tourism side. But as the minister of innovation and technology, I have initiated a team that is [working] on simplifying the process for technology [experts] to come to Israel."

As part of the recently signed agreement, two private companies from the UAE will submit proposals to develop scientific instruments for Israel’s Beresheet 2 mission, which plans to land a spacecraft on the moon by 2024.

This will be Israel's second attempt to reach the moon after its 2019 Beresheet mission crash-landed onto the lunar surface.

Research collaboration

The letters of intent between the space agencies map out further alliances between universities in Israel and the UAE. They include exploring red tide phenomenon; analysing red palm weevil infestation, which threatens date palm cultivation; and mapping aerosols – solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere.

Vegetation and environmental data gathered by a micro-satellite called VENµS, used by Israel Space Agency and the French Space Agency, will also be shared with the UAE.

"It is the first step in a long journey," said Farkash-Hacohen, explaining that the collaboration has been under discussion for a year now, but that the announcement was held off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We see this [partnership] as not a sprint, but a marathon," she added.

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