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Qatar and Saudi cyclists defy Gulf dispute in race celebration

Qatar cyclists win GBI charity race and celebrate with Saudi counterparts, as sportsmanship is put before national rivalries
The Qatari and Saudi flags fly together on the podium at the GBI cycle 2017 (Twitter)

A Saudi team of cyclists joined their Qatari opponents in celebrating a Qatari victory in a long-distance charity cycling competition, in a show of unity defying the current diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

The Qatar Cyclists team earlier this month won the six-day, 846km Global Biking Initiative (GBI) tour from London to Dusseldorf.

But the Saudi team did not let national rivalries spoil sportsmanship, and joined the Qataris on the podium as they received their awards, as the flags of both nations were flown.

Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of a quartet of Arab states seeking to pile pressure on Qatar over charges it backs terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar. Doha denies both the accusations of supporting terrorism and of allying with Iran.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both put bans in place allowing them to punish anyone expressing sympathy towards Qatar, with the UAE threatening up to 15 years jail time for the crime. 

Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani, the sister of the ruling Emir of Qatar, shared a picture of the two groups celebrating together on her Twitter account.

Translation: Congratulations to the Qatar Cyclists team on their victory in the GBI in Germany. The Qatari team shared their joy with the Saudi team on the podium.

Twitter users also commented on the bringing together of these two teams despite the siege on Qatar.

Translation: Qatar Cyclists team in Germany, once they were victorious, called the Saudi team to take this beautiful picture, bringing together the two peoples despite the siege.

Other users shared their hopes that things return to normal in the region.

Translation: May the love between brothers last forever, and may this problem be solved and things return to better and stronger than they were.

Last week an Emirati citizen was detained for "sympathising" with Qatar in a series of Snapchat videos he shared on social media. 

The Global Biking Initiative was launched 10 years ago and has raised more than $1m for charities in 23 countries.