Dubai: All arrangements have been finalised to stage the 2012 Dubai International Open featuring 32 top-ranked snooker players from 11 Asian countries on November 4-10 at Dubai Snooker Club.
Mohammad Tamjid Abdullah, Vice-President of the UAE Billiards & Snooker Association (UAEBSA), told a news conference on Tuesday afternoon that the tournament was being staged to help Asian countries, including the host country, prepare for the forthcoming 2012 IBSF World Snooker Championship in Sofia between November 24 and December 2.
Abdullah said: “The tournament shall serve as a great opportunity for the participants to gain important matchplay before the world event in Sofia. The response that we received from the invited countries was very positive and encouraging as they realise the importance of such an event.
“The UAE will be represented by experienced pair of Mohammad Shehab and Mohammad Al Joker in the World Championship, but the Dubai International Open shall also help our other young and upcoming players to brace themselves for future challenges.”
UAEBSA Secretary-General, Sultan Al Joker, explained that the hosts will be fielding 11 players in the tournament, which is being co-sponsored by Kataria Holdings and ENOC.
He said: “We are very proud of the achievements made by Mohammad [Shehab] and Mohammad [Al Joker] for the country internationally, but we have to plan for the future as well.
“We decided to stage the event not only to help our top two players, but also to allow an opportunity for the others to gain international exposure and improve their game as well. We do have players in UAE who have the potential of becoming stars in the future.”
Al Joker added: “This is going to be a tough event for everyone because of the quality of the players participating. Players from Thailand and Syria are very strong, but we do have hopes of doing well.”
The countries taking part in the Dubai International Open are Bahrain, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Thailand, Syria and the UAE.
The Thai challenge will be spearheaded by former world youth champion Noppon Saengkham and Pramual Jantad, a former Asian under-21 title-holder. Omar Alkojah and Karam Fatima, winners of gold and silver medals respectively at the 2012 Arab Championships at the same venue last month, will be representing Syria in the event.
The members of the UAE squad are: Mohammad Shehab, Mohammad Al Joker, Abdul Rahman Saif, Mohammad Hussain, Saif Al Kitbi, Khalid Kamali, Ahmad Abdul Qader, Saeed Al Za’abi, Marwan Ebrahim, Ahmad Shehab and Badr Obaid Al Muhairi.
The 32 participating players will be divided into eight groups of four each for the first round, round-robin action. The top two players from each group will make it to the last 16 stage for which another round-robin battle will take place, with the qualifiers being split into four groups.