It has been a year of landmark achievements in sports in the Middle East and North Africa – on and off the field.
From Qatar’s maiden win at the Asian Cup to Iran allowing women to attend a men’s football match after decades, there was plenty to celebrate and talk about.
As we reach the finish line for 2019, Al Jazeera takes a look back at some of the most notable sporting moments in the region.
1. Qatar wins first Asian football title
In a tournament that was played against the backdrop of a regional political dispute, Qatar’s national football team defied odds and exceeded expectations at the AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this year.
The Maroons stunned four-time champions Japan 3-1 in the final on February 1 to lift their maiden trophy at the continental tournament.
They also beat Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Korea and hosts UAE en route to the title.
Qatari striker Almoez Ali set an Asian Cup record of nine goals to go home with the best player award.
2. BeoutQ: Saudi-Qatar piracy row
Off the field, a two-year-old broadcasting row between Qatar’s beIN Sports and a Saudi pirate channel beoutQ deepened.
A number of football bodies – including football’s world governing body FIFA and Europe’s UEFA – pursued legal action in Saudi Arabia against the pirate outfit.
In September, an Al Jazeera Arabic investigation revealed the exact location of beoutQ’s headquarters in the al-Qirawan district of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Since 2017, beIN Media Group, which holds exclusive rights to broadcast major international sports events to the MENA region, has fallen victim of beoutQ, which has been stealing its signal by broadcasting it as its own, complete with superimposed on-air logos.
3. Golden year for Liverpool’s Salah
It was a memorable year for English football club Liverpool as well as its star striker Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian footballer reached a landmark feat of 50 Premier League goals for his team, becoming the eighth Liverpool player to join the elite club.
But his half-century arrived in only 69 games, three fewer than Fernando Torres, the previous quickest to the mark.