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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 15:02 UK

Bahrain to host new ranking event

Former world champion Peter Ebdon
The Dubai-based Peter Ebdon says Bahrain will support the tournament

The Middle East is set to host a world ranking tournament for the seventh time after the Bahrain Championship was added to this year's calendar.

The event will be held in Bahrain's capital, Manama, from 8 to 15 November.

It will feature the world's top 16 players, plus 16 qualifiers and six local wild cards.

World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker said: "This is a major step in our strategy to make professional snooker a global sport."

He added: "We are moving into a territory which we know has a huge following for snooker.

"This tournament will be a focal point for that interest as well as a catalyst for further growth across the Middle East."

Former world champion Peter Ebdon, who lives in Dubai, said: "This is tremendous news for snooker.

"To have a brand new tournament is a great boost for the players, and particularly to have one in a new territory.

"I have witnessed at first hand the popularity of snooker in the Middle East, the people love it here.

"It's great news for fans in the region as they will get the chance to see their heroes in action, and I have no doubt that the tournament will be well supported."

World Snooker, the sport's governing body, has had to cope with the withdrawal of two major sponsors in recent weeks.

I have no doubt that the tournament will be well supported

Former world champion Peter Ebdon
World championship sponsors are quitting their five-year deal after three years, while Saga Insurance has pulled out of its backing of the Wembley Masters.

The withdrawal of and Saga Insurance is being estimated to come at a cost of 1.5m to the game, with World Snooker saying the companies blame the "current economic climate" for their decisions.

World snooker has already established tournaments in China and Malta.

see also
Huge financial blow hits snooker
06 Aug 08 |  Snooker

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