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With cooperation as their goal, Israel and UAE soccer leagues ink agreement

Memorandum of understanding includes joint workshops, development of technical side of sport; Israeli league says it hopes to soon collaborate with other countries in region

United Arab Emirates fans cheer for the team during the AFC Asian Cup group A soccer match between United Arab Emirates and India at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
United Arab Emirates fans cheer for the team during the AFC Asian Cup group A soccer match between United Arab Emirates and India at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI — Soccer leagues from the United Arab Emirates and Israel signed a cooperation agreement, the first such deal between an Arab country and the Jewish state, it was announced Tuesday.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) comes after UAE in September became the first Gulf nation to have relations with Israel, followed closely by Bahrain.

“The terms of the MoU include holding joint workshops to discuss ways to develop the marketing and promotional side of the competitions, in addition to keeping pace with everything related to sports and football [soccer] development technology, as well as developing the technical aspect in the football [soccer] sector,” the UAE Pro League said in a statement.

The announcement comes after Al-Nasr club of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, for the first time signed an Israeli player, Diaa Sabia.

Emirati club Al-Nasr presents news signing, Israeli midfielder Diaa Sabia, bought from Chinese club Guangzhou R&F. (via AFP)

The agreement, signed on Monday, “will contribute towards the promotion of peace and strengthen cooperation and friendship in a way that serves the interest of football in both countries,” said Abdulla Naser al-Junaibi, chairman of the UAE Pro League, according to the statement.

Erez Halfon, chairman of the Israeli Professional Football League, also lauded the agreement.

“We hope that soon we will have the opportunity to continue to forge collaborations in the field of football with our other neighbors as well,” he said, according to the statement.

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