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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 November 2018

UAE in focus: UAE snooker player Mohammed Shehab ‘still hungry for success’

Mohammed Shehab is the first Emirati to reach the final of the Asian Snooker Championship. He caught up with Amith Passela in Abu Dhabi.
Emirati snooker player Mohammed Shehab. Jeff Topping / The National
Emirati snooker player Mohammed Shehab. Jeff Topping / The National

Mohammed Shehab made the final of last month’s tournament in Doha, losing 6-2 to Thailand’s Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn. It mirrored his first final appearance in Sri Lanka in 2006, when he also lost to another Thai player, Issara Kachaiwong.

The 40-year-old Emirati won gold at the Asian Indoor Games in Macau in 2006, which he said was the highlight of his playing career, now entering its 22nd year.

Shehab, a major in the Abu Dhabi Police, will shoulder the UAE’s hopes along with his long-time national teammate Mohammed Al Joker in the fifth Asian 6-Red and Teams Championship that gets underway tomorrow at the Novotel Al Bustan Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The 6-Red is a shorter format of traditional snooker featuring just six red balls, which Shehab has likened to the Twenty20 format in cricket. However, the Teams Championship will be played with the usual 15 red balls.

You have been in the sport for more than two decades. How did it all start for you?

I use to accompany my father (Mustafa Shehab Al Hashemi, a retired general in the Abu Dhabi Police and the tournament director) to the Police Club whenever he practised and played. We also had a snooker table at home and he encouraged and trained me to play at a very young age. When I was growing up I became reasonably good and at 18 I got serious. I almost gave up my education for snooker but my parents insisted my academics was more important, and I thank them for that.

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You turned professional at one point. What happened?

I did try for a year in 2007 but don’t want to go into that again. But it was very costly without the backing of sponsors. I was asked if I want to try pro again soon after I ended runner-up in the Asian Championship last month but I declined. I have to be realistic. I can’t dedicate full time to snooker as I have a job and family to look after.

What would be your objectives as an amateur?

I think I have had some success which I can cherish, like reaching the Asian Championship finals twice winning the Asian Indoor Championship, reaching the semi-finals twice in the World Amateur and representing my country. This is enough for me at my age, but having said that, I’m still hungry for success.

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What are your expectations for this week’s tournament in front of your fans?

The objective, of course, is to win both the individual and team gold. But there are a lot of good players and it’s not easy on this format. Whoever gets the break can clear the table.

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