Tel Aviv is often seen as the gay capital of the Middle East.
After Israel’s Netta won 2018’s Eurovision competition with her empowering anthem Toy there had been much speculation over where the 2019 competition would be held.
Many speculated that it would be held in Jerusalem, but on Thursday it was announced that the competition would be held in Tel Aviv. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) made the decision after organisers raised concerns that Jerusalem couldn’t host the event due to the strict adherence to Shabbat in the heavily religious city.
Speaking about the decision, Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, highlighted the city’s openness toward the LGBTQ community. “The city of Tel Aviv will be honored to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest,” he said.
“Our beloved city has gained international esteem as an open city, a welcoming home to the LGBT community and many other minorities. Tel Aviv-Yafo is a global city that respects all people—residents and visitors.”
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The EBU’s executive supervisor for Eurovision, Jon Ola Sand said: “We’d like to thank all the Israeli cities who bid to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, and KAN who conducted an expert and thorough assessment to help us make the final decision.
“All the bids were exemplary but in the end we decided that Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world’s largest live music event.
“We are excited to bring the contest to a brand new city and are looking forward to working together with KAN to make 2019’s Eurovision Song Contest the most spectacular one yet.”
The event will be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center with the semi-finals taking place on May 14 and 16, and the final taking place on May 18.
Related: Tel Aviv is a beacon of tolerance within the Middle East with its huge gay circuit-style parties