Speaking with Israeli news channel Kan, Qatari Sheikh Hamad Al Suwaidi told the Israeli TV broadcaster that he hopes to visit Tel Aviv, and that Israel’s existence should be accepted as a fact.
Al Suwaidi was interviewed while standing next to a three-meter-high replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy he had installed outside of his home in Doha, Qatar.
Al Suwaidi’s four-ton tribute to soccer has made him a media sensation, but this is not the first time that the sheikh has been in the spotlight; he first found fame in the late 1980s as a race car driver. The Qatari sheikh is also known for setting up the country’s first peacock sanctuary.
While an accomplished sculptor himself, Al Suwaidi commissioned the Mondial monument to recognize his country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup next month. Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to do so.
The nation of Qatar does not recognize Israel and openly supports Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip, which has fought four significant wars with Israel since 2008. Nevertheless, Qatar is allowing Israelis to attend the soccer tournament under an agreement reached through FIFA.
Al Suwaidi, on the other hand told the Israeli broadcaster that he believes in normalization with Israel and that he would like to visit Tel Aviv.
“We can’t banish Israel and Israel can’t leave,” he said from Doha. “People need to be realistic.”
Between the years 1995 and 2000, Qatar hosted an Israeli trade office; yet, because of its close relations with Iran, Qatar is not expected to join the Abraham Accords.
When asked if he had any concern that he would be denounced or persecuted for speaking to the Israeli media, Al Suwaidi just shrugged it off.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.