This week, a number of Israeli citizens will be traveling to Qatar for attending the FIFA World Cup and the country is urging them to not be visibly Israeli.
Israeli and Qatar do not have any formal diplomatic ties and there are concerns about an embarrassing diplomatic crisis, as thousands of Israeli fans will travel to Doha for attending the World Cup.
The FIFA World Cup is being held in the Middle East for the very first time.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry launched a campaign for educating the soccer fans of Israel about the customs and laws of Qatar, which a rather conservative Muslim nation.
The warning is a part of this campaign, which has a website in Arabic and Hebrew, and outlines the potential problems that Israeli tourists can face in Qatar.
Israelis are not exactly known for their discretion, while Qatar is a very conservative country where alcohol consumption is restricted, drugs are banned and homosexuality is criminalized.
Similar to other Gulf Arab citizens, such as those in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, citizens of Qatar support the cause of Palestinians.
There are also other complications, such as the fact that officials and fans from Iran, which is the archenemy of Israel, will also be in attendance at the tournament.
Qatar is at a very short distance from Iran and the flight only takes 40 minutes. The campaign launched by the Foreign Ministry instructs Israelis to keep any Israeli symbols concealed, including Stars of David and their flags.
A senior diplomat from Israel, Lior Haiat said that the team from Iran is participating in the World Cup, which means that thousands of Iranian fans will also attend the tournament.
Moreover, there will also be citizens from other countries in the Gulf, with whom Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations.
Therefore, he said that it is best for people to downplay their Israeli identity and presence for their own security.
The fact that Israelis will be permitted to travel to Qatar for attending the World Cup without requiring foreign passports is already a landmark agreement because of the lack of ties between the two nations.
Last week, Qatar also announced that direct flights will also be permitted from Tel Aviv to Doha for Israelis as well as Palestinians, the latter of which need the approval of the Israeli government.
Likewise, the agreement also includes Israeli diplomats providing consular services to the country’s citizens via a private travel firm during the World Cup.
The diplomats departed to Qatar this week on Wednesday. Entry visa has been granted to almost 8,000 Palestinian fans and 4,000 Israelis for the tournament.
The ministry believes that almost 20,000 Israelis are likely to travel to Qatar for attending the World Cup.
Hayat stated that many Israelis are soccer fans and plenty of them are going to travel to Qatar and require assistance.
As for LGBTQ Israeli fans who will attend the tournament, they have been strictly told to avoid it in public.