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Arab-Israeli soccer star joins Emirati league

Following normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Emirati Al-Nasr soccer club has recruited Arab-Israeli star Dia Saba, who will be the first Israeli to join a Gulf league.
Israel's midfielder Dia Saba (R) shoots the ball past Guatemala's goalkeeper Paulo Motta as he scores during the FIFA friendly football match between Israel and Guatemala at Netanya Municipal Stadium in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on November 15, 2018. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

History was made when Arab-Israeli soccer player Dia Saba signed with Dubai’s Al-Nasr soccer club. As he leaves the Chinese club Guangzhou R&F to join the team from Dubai, 28-year-old Saba will be the first Israeli player to ever set foot on an Emirati soccer field. The deal was made possible largely by the normalization agreement signed this month between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Saba made his first breakthrough while playing for the Maccabee Netanya soccer club. He ended the season as the Israeli Super League’s top scorer with 24 goals. The achievement earned him a place on what was then Israel’s champion team, HaPoel Beersheba. Just a few months later, he was acquired by Guangzhou R&F for $5 million. After two years there, he left the club this week and signed with Al-Nasr Dubai.

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