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Iran says it signed 'aviation cooperation' memo with UAE

The UAE and Iran have cordial economic and political relations, despite being on opposite sides of some regional rivalries.
Ali Shamkhani (R), Iran's secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, meets with Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L).

Iran and the United Arab Emirates agreed on Tuesday to work together more on aviation matters, Iranian state media reported. 

Iranian Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Jafar Yazarloo said they signed a memorandum of understanding with the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority. They specifically aim to increase the number of flights between Iran and the UAE and boost the number of flights through Iranian airspace, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. 

The UAE Embassy in Washington did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment. 

Why it matters: The UAE and Iran have cordial economic and political relations, despite being on opposite sides of some regional rivalries. Iran exported more than $2.2 billion worth of non-oil products to the UAE from March to July of 2022, making the Gulf state Iran's third-largest export destination during the period, Tehran Times reported at the time.

Iranian exports to the UAE in all of 2021 amounted to nearly $362 million. UAE exports to Iran equaled nearly $6.6 billion that year, according to Trading Economics. 

The two countries cooperate in a variety of fields. The Emirati and Iranian environment ministries discussed joint cooperation on fighting dust storms last July.

The UAE announced last August that its ambassador would resume duties in Iran following a six-year absence, Agence France-Presse reported at the time.

More recently, an Iranian border guard delegation visited the UAE in February, according to the official Emirates News Agency. 

At the same time, the UAE is close to Iran’s top foe Israel, following the Abraham Accords and normalization of relations in 2021. Iran and the UAE particularly disagree on the Yemeni civil war. Iran supports the Houthi rebels in Yemen, while the UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition backing the government. Houthi drones hit three fuel tankers in Abu Dhabi last year. 

Estimates vary, but there are around 500,000 Iranians living in the UAE. 

The Iran-UAE airspace agreement notably follows Oman's decision in February to open its airspace to Israeli flights. This occurred after Saudi Arabia likewise opened its airspace to Israeli planes in 2022. 

Know more: The UAE has been implicated in Iran sanctions violations in the past. Last November, the US Treasury Department sanctioned an Emirati company for allegedly doing energy deals with the Islamic Republic. 

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