Following his successful visit to Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, on 15-16 October 2019 where UAE-Russian space cooperation featured prominently on the diplomatic agenda.
President Putin’s visit to Abu Dhabi comes weeks after the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansoori, completed his historic stay on the International Space Station (ISS). That mission was made possible with Russian assistance and expertise in human spaceflight, and President Putin met with the UAE Astronaut corps, Al Mansoori included, at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.
“I hope this visit will have a deep effect to enhance the strategic relationship between our countries… and lead to further opportunities for each country,” said H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Vice President of the UAE, to President Putin.
“We have made a quantum leap in our cooperation in space exploration and once again I would like to congratulate you on the successful launch of the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station,” President Putin said, and pledged, “to continue to support the UAE in the fields of space, including contributing and assisting in the launch of satellites.”
President Putin’s mention of launching satellites echoes a similar offer made to Saudi Arabia days earlier.
“We are ready to continue providing all the necessary assistance to the United Arab Emirates in the space sector,” Putin told Sheikh Mohammed, according to a statement.
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), spoke of UAE-Russian “partnerships on Earth, but also in space”, and said that the potential for cooperation was “unlimited.”
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said after meeting with Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister, “I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the Russian Minister and the Russian firms, especially the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, for advancing our space partnership which culminated in the first space mission and the launch of the first Emirati astronaut into the International Space Station last month. We are all proud of Hazzaa Al Mansoori and happy that these moments will live forever in the memory of the Emirati people, especially the youth.”
Denis Manturov, the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade, said he was delighted with the success of the first Emirati astronaut mission to the ISS, which underscores the depth of bilateral cooperation in the space sector between the UAE and Russia.
In a joint statement with the Russian minister at the end of their meeting, Sheikh Abdullah said, “The meeting is convened as we mark…the safe return of Hazza Al Mansoori after an eight-day space mission aboard a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station, which will have far-reaching impact on the scientific and knowledge aspects in the UAE and encourage many Emirati and Arab youth to venture into the journey of research, knowledge and adventure.”
“We are very impressed by the UAE’s space programme. We know it’s developing very quickly. UAE space officers are being trained at Russian facilities. And there are several projects in space we are discussing with the UAE, including the launching of satellites from the UAE territory using some of the Russian technology,” said Russia’s ambassador to the UAE, Sergei Kuznetsov.
“I think cooperation in space can be very significant, and we believe the UAE can become a very strong space power going forward,” he added.