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June 17, 2021 11:48 am
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Jewish Athlete From UAE Becomes First Gulf Athlete Chosen to Compete in Maccabiah Games

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Yves Friedman. Photo: provided

Dubai-based athlete Yves Friedman has made history by becoming the first athlete from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to be slated for competition in the Maccabiah Games, it was announced on Monday.

Friedman — who specializes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu — will be a part of the UAE delegation competing in the Maccabiah Games, which will take place July 12-26, 2022, in Ramat Gan, Israel. Friedman, 42, is a Belgian citizen who has been living in Dubai since he was a young child.

The GCC is an organization comprising of the states of the Arabian Peninsula, excluding Yemen. The Jewish Council of the Emirates joined the Maccabi Europe association in February 2021.

Often dubbed the “Jewish Olympics,” the Maccabiah Games is an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event held every four years in Israel. The Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to send a delegation to the Games, marking the first time that athletes from the UAE will participate in the competition.

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“I am looking forward to the moment when we enter the stadium in Ramat Gan with 50,000 applauding our small delegation with Emirati flags,” Alex Peterfreund — a co-founder and cantor of the Jewish Community of the Emirates (JCE), who worked on the UAE’s joining Maccabi Europe — told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. “This is a historic moment in time and something we will tell generations to come.”

Peterfreund added that Friedman is proud to represent the UAE, a country that he considers home, in Israel.

Houda Nonoo, an ambassador at Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, congratulated the athlete on the milestone achievement. She tweeted on Monday, “Mazal tov and Mabrouk” and added, “Wishing you the best of luck Yves!”

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