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Kuwaiti motorsurf player withdraws from competition in protest over Israel-Arab normalisation

Abdul Razzaq al-Baghli is one of a growing number of Kuwaitis resorting to boycotts in order to oppose normalisation
The Emirates International Motosurf Championship started on the Abu Dhabi Corniche on Saturday (Screengrab/Twitter)

Kuwaiti watersports player Abdul Razzaq al-Baghli has pulled out of the Emirates International Motosurf Championship in Abu Dhabi after refusing to compete against an Israeli competitor. 

The championship commenced on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, with 34 competitors from around the world taking part. 

Al-Baghli confirmed his withdrawal from the water sports event in a video shared to social media on Sunday, citing his "direct interaction with a player from the Zionist entity".

He proceeded by stating that his decision was consistent with Kuwait's objective of "persistent support for the Palestinian cause". 

In response to his withdrawal, Tariq al-Shaya, a member of Kuwati's Supreme Coordinating Committee for Anti-Zionism and Normalisation, declared that: "Al-Baghli's decision is a position that will be engraved in the records of history with gold letters." 

'Al-Baghli's decision shows Kuwait's strong and decisive stance against the Zionist entity'

- Ahmed al-Hamad, Kuwait National Assembly member

Al-Shaya said in a statement that "expulsion of the Zionist occupation begins with international isolation, which Kuwaiti sportsmen have done in teams and individual games". 

"The message that every Kuwaiti player conveys in all fields is that Palestine will endure, your occupation will cease, and Jerusalem will remain Palestine's capital for all time," she concluded. 

Ahmed al-Hamad, a member of Kuwait's National Assembly, added that al-Baghli's withdrawal from the motorsurf competition "confirms our confidence in our Kuwaiti youth, who are conscious of their country's affairs".

"His decision shows Kuwait's strong and decisive stance against the Zionist entity - it is a direct answer to all those who demand normalisation prior to the restoration of Palestinians people's rights" he added. 

Online, the decision was met with widespread praise.

One Twitter user took to social media to say "he has won in the battle of principles, moral values. Generation after generation, we will not recognise Israel."

Another Twitter user said: "Where are the rest of the Gulf, they should come and learn a little."

Translation: Let the peoples of the world know that the Kuwaiti people reject normalisation altogether and cannot accept it under any justification and under any pressure.

Al-Baghli's resignation from the Abu Dhabi competition follows a succession of Kuwaiti withdrawals from events in the UAE, including Kuwaiti tennis player Muhammad Al-Awadi's withdrawal from the semi-finals of the international championship for under-14 professionals and Kuwaiti inventor and engineer Jenan Al-Shehab's departure from Expo 2020 in Dubai this year. 


Earlier this week, a Kuwaiti academic delegation withdrew from a symposium at the University of Bahrain because of an Israeli lecturer's attendance. Musab Al-Mutawa, head of the Kuwaiti Youth for Jerusalem, remarked that the "removal of the Kuwaiti academic delegation reaffirms the country's unequivocal and official opposition to normalisation with Israel in all its manifestations."

A number of Middle Eastern countries have normalised ties with Israel, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The decision to normalise ties has caused controversy around the region.