Peter Ebdon moved to Dubai three years ago so that his family would feel safe. He was worried about the rising crime in his birth country of England so he packed his bags and took his wife Deborah and four children to the Emirates - a land of sunshine, opportunity and safe streets in which to walk. Of course it meant that he would have to travel back and forth to Britain on a regular basis to continue his job as a professional snooker player.
But the former world champion had a short trip yesterday to the International Conference Centre in Manama where he was playing in the Bahrain Championship. Being a "local" boy it will not take him long to get home, which is rather fortunate as yesterday he was beaten in his first match 5-3 by Robert Milkins. He said he had been working hard on his game and was bitterly disappointed to be beaten. But the truth was that he seemed very much out of sorts, losing frames he should have won and missing balls he would normally pot without a second thought.
It was Ebdon who first came up with the idea of holding a ranking tournament in Bahrain when he came to watch the World Under 21 Championship here. He would now like the rest of the Middle East to sit up and take notice. "This tournament has been three years in the making and I am so pleased it is now up and running. It seems incredible that this is the first major tournament in this region since 1994 [the last Dubai Duty Free Championship] so let's hope that it is the catalyst for more to come," he said.
"A lot of people here in the Middle East play snooker regularly and there are some very good players. "During my time in the Gulf I have practised with the local players and I am impressed with their talent." At one stage yesterday Ebdon was 4-1 down but, helped by a break of 118, he clawed his way back to 4-3 only to lose the eighth and final frame when being in a position to draw level. "I was given a few chances but just couldn't take them," he said.
"We both struggled out there to be honest, though I had an unkind run of the balls." Ebdon, 38, is now in danger of losing his place in the world top 16, which would mean more trips back to Britain to qualify. "I'm not helping myself by being beaten in the first round. I'll just have to put in even more hard work to put things right," he said Or hope that more tournaments are held on his doorstep so that he is close at hand.