(JTA) – An Israeli government minister visited the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in what is being called the first official state visit to the country by an Israeli government minister.
Miri Regev, the minister of culture and sport, was accompanied by UAE officials on her visit Monday to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. She wore a traditional Arab embroidered robe and covered her hair with a scarf. She also signed the mosque’s guest book.
Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the UAE.
Regev was in the UAE to accompany Israel’s judo team for the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.
On Sunday, Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” was played for the first time in the Arab country after Israeli lightweight Sagi Muki won a gold medal in the under 81 kg category. Regev visibly wept while the anthem was played.
On Monday, Peter Paltchick became the second Israeli to win a gold medal at the competition, in the under 100 kg weight category, and the anthem was played again.
In 2017, five Israeli judokas won medals in Abu Dhabi, including a gold, but tournament organizers refused to play Israel’s national anthem or display its flag. The Israeli competitors that year also were required to wear the uniform of the International Judo Federation and received their medals under an IJF flag.