An Israeli Player Signs For Dubai Club
In what is considered a historic move, a club in a Gulf country first signed an Israeli footballer, Diaa Sabia, less than two weeks after the United Arab Emirates normalized ties with the Jewish state.
Sabia, a 27-year-old Arab-Israeli attacking midfielder with China’s Guangzhou R&F, has signed a two-year contract with Dubai’s Al-Nasr, the club said in a statement Sunday.
The transfer allegedly cost more than 2.5 million euros ($ 2.9 million).
Al-Nasr tweeted images of Sabia in the number 9 jersey, dribbling and shooting at the emirate’s Al-Maktoum stadium.
Sabia’s move comes after the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a member, signed a U.S.-brokered deal to normalize ties with Israel on Sept. 15, the first such deal with a Gulf nation. .
Sabia, who is of Palestinian origin, was born in northern Israel and rose through the ranks of a youth club before moving to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2012.
He played for various Israeli clubs until signing in 2014 with Maccabi Netanya, where he stayed for four years.
Sabia has scored 50 goals in 111 games in various competitions, including 24 in the 2018 season, and has 10 appearances for the Israeli national team.