A key UAE government spokesperson has downplayed the imminent opening of a diplomatic-level mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in Abu Dhabi.

The communications director at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Maryam al-Falasi, stated on 27 November that “any agreement between Irena and Israel does not represent any change in the position of the UAE or its relations with Israel,” according to a report by the UAE National News Agency (Wam).

The UAE and the rest of the Gulf states do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel due to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Details of the opening of a mission office in Abu Dhabi was confirmed following a trip to the UAE capital last week by Dore Gold, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, according to a report by Israeli publication Haaretz.

Israel is understood to have voted for the establishment of Irena’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi in 2009 provided it could freely participate in the organisation’s activities. According to Irena, all members have the right to send permanent missions accredited to the organisation and the UAE as the host country must facilitate [such missions].

Although the Irena office is not an equivalent of a full mission or embassy, it is the first time an Israeli diplomat will be stationed in the UAE full time.

Israel had previously held trade offices in Oman and Qatar. The mission in Oman was closed in 2000 following the second Palestinian intifada, while Qatar shut down the Jewish state’s mission in protest of the Gaza war between 2008 and 2009.