DUBAI, United Arab Emirates( AFP)- An Israeli cycling team raced through Dubai on Sunday, taking part in the UAE Tour for the first time in the latest overture between the two countries, which have no diplomatic relations.
Gulf Arab societies have made a number of recent moves inkling at warmer ties with the Jewish state, with Israeli athletes and officials increasingly allowed to visit.
The UAE Tour, in its second year, is the sole WorldTour-level race in the Countries of the middle east. As a WorldTeam, Israel Start-Up Nation gets automatic entry into every WorldTour race in the calendar, so their attending in the UAE is in that regard quite unsurprising. Nonetheless, squad statements suggested that they were aware of the political significance of the moment and that they were approaching the scoot with a spirit of diplomacy.
” The participation in this race by our Israeli team in a Middle Eastern commonwealth is emblematic of how cycling can be a force for diplomatic openness and progress ,” team co-owner Sylvan Adams said.” It’s a historic occasion that an Israeli team will be racing in an Arab country- the first time ever- and we hope to make a diplomatic statement that Israel is a ordinary country, and normalise connects .”
— Israel Start-Up Nation/ Israel Cycling Academy (@ YallaIsraelSUN) February 23, 2020
Like all Arab countries, except for Jordan and Egypt, the United Arab Emirates has no official relations with Israel. But Israel Start-Up Nation’s riders, with their country’s reputation emblazoned on their off-color and white-hot t-shirts, posed on-stage at the team presentation the day before the week-long race kicked off in Dubai.
” I’m very excited, it’s a nice country. We come here with a good crew ,” Israeli cyclist Omer Goldstein told AFP ahead of the race.
” It’s special that I’ve arrived here because normally Israelis cannot( come) to this country .”
“[ Basically] we’re building up normalised ties-in from the field, up on a people-to-people basis- so when the legislators get ready to sign our majestic peace deal we will previously have had normalised ties-in for quite a while, and we will have a warm peace ,” Adams expressed in a unit video.” Rather than doing it from the top down, we will do it from the bottom up, and I think we are creating the conditions for this to be possible .”
The team said they were surprised by the warm reception they received in the UAE, where expatriates even up about 90 percent of the population.
” After the initial stupor to see the Israel Start-Up Nation logo, some of them motioned with affectionate smiles and even asked for selfies ,” the team said after a visit to a Dubai cycling park.
Israel has been softly moving closer to some Gulf Arab countries on the basis of shared security interests and a common adversary — Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited Oman in 2018, often express confidence that a decades-old Arab boycott — over medication of the Palestinians and occupation of Arab districts — is thawing.
Since then there have been other milestones in Israeli its relationship with the Gulf nations.
Israeli Sports Minister Miri Regev toured the UAE’s famed Sheikh Zayed mosque, Israel’s communications minister handed a speech in Dubai, and the Israeli national chant was played at a judo rivalry in Abu Dhabi.
As for the UAE Tour, the Israel Start-Up Nation equestrians were reportedly warmly welcomed at the airport, and have been given extra security protection for the duration of the scoot. French equestrian Rudy Barbier, meanwhile, got the team’s campaign off to a good start with third place on the opening stage.
The post Israel Start-Up Nation’s diplomatic mission at the UAE Tour loomed first on CyclingTips.
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