The World Cup in Qatar has been garnering masses of attention in recent weeks, being touted by many as the most controversial tournament ever. Much of the furor revolves around the host nation’s human rights record and the treatment of migrant workers, among other issues.
While the tournament is understandably proving divisive, it’s also important to shine a light on the positive impact it’s had in other ways, including some truly groundbreaking developments, proving that sport can do some good, regardless of the circumstances.
Israel and Qatar make history
In what was an extremely welcome surprise, the first-ever direct flights between Israel and Qatar took place this week. The flights were operated by Cypriate carrier TUS and finally launched on Sunday after months of negotiations between the two countries. Welcomed with balloon archways, cake, and commemorative tickets featuring the flags of Israel, Qatar, and Cyprus, the historic flight sparked hope for future relations between the two countries.
To those unaware of the relationship (or lack thereof) Israel shares with its Arab neighbors, Qatar currently has no diplomatic ties with the country and has hosted leaders of Hamas, the militant nationalist movement that aims to liberate Palestine from Israel. Israel has few allies in the predominantly Islamic Middle East but has made progress in recent years.
While no Palestinians were on board the first flight, it is hoped some will join in on forthcoming schedules. The last-minute nature of the decision made it complicated for many in the region to organize travel quickly.