Israel minister makes first official visit to UAE
Israel's minister of sport and culture has travelled to the United Arab Emirates, where athletes have been allowed to compete under the Jewish state's flag for the first time.
Miri Regev arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday to meet with the 11 Israelis taking part in the Judo Grand-Slam, domestic media reported.
This is the first time an Israeli minister has made an official visit to the UAE and also the first time Israeli athletes have been granted permission to display the country's flag and play the national anthem in a Gulf state.
Israeli media published images and videos of Regev and the Israeli team, singing Hebrew songs and performing a Sabbath celebration in an Abu Dhabi hotel.
The move comes after the UAE in September reversed its policy of banning Israeli athletes from competing under the Israeli flag or playing the national anthem
In July, the International Judo Federation barred the UAE and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments after they failed to guarantee the equal treatment of Israeli athletes.
At last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Slam organisers refused to fly the Israeli flag or play the national anthem during ceremonies for Israeli medallists.
The UAE, like most Arab countries, does not have official diplomatic ties with Israel.
Gulf states, in particular the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, are increasingly coming out in the open as allies to Israel as they find common cause against mutual foe Iran.
Israeli athletes also took part in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Qatar this week amid calls from the group Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization (QAYON) to ban the delegation.