Stock - Riyadh skyline / Saudi economy / Saudi Arabia
An Israel delegation arrived in Riyadh on Sunday to attend a Unesco meeting. Image Credit: AFP file

JERUSALEM: An Israeli delegation arrived in Riyadh on Sunday to attend a UN conference on world heritage sites, in the first public visit by government officials to Saudi Arabia, an Israeli official said.

The delegation is led by the head of Israel’s Antiquities Authority and includes diplomats, the official said.

It is not a bilateral visit, and it was unclear whether they would meet with Saudi officials.

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The official was not authorised to discuss the matter with media and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official noted that Israel took part in a video game competition in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

The visit comes as Washington is pushing to broker normalisation of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are believed to have quietly cultivated ties in recent years over their shared suspicion of Iran. A formal agreement would be a historic step toward integrating Israel into the wider region, but it faces major challenges.

The Saudis are reportedly demanding major progress on resolving the conflict with the Palestinians — a hard sell for the most right-wing government in Israel’s history — as well as US defence guarantees and aid in establishing a civilian nuclear programme.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the 45th session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee, which begins Sunday and runs until September 25.