It is very good news indeed that there will be a ranking event in Bahrain in November.
Credit must go in particular to Peter Ebdon, who lives in Dubai and has been closely involved in the negotiations.
These included a trip to Bahrain’s F1 track in such sweltering heat that it would have caused lesser men than Ebdon to pass out.
Peter will be talking about the new Bahrain event on Talksport between 8-9pm this evening.
There will now be at least eight ranking tournaments this season, the highest number for four years.
We should not get carried away by proclaiming this as the start of a brave new era for the sport but it is certainly a major step in the right direction.
However, World Snooker must have collective amnesia if they believe this is the first ranking event to be staged in the Middle East.
The Dubai Classic began life as an invitation event promoted by Barry Hearn’s Matchroom organisation in 1988.
The then WPBSA administration got hold of the contract to make it into a ranking tournament. For this and other reasons too complicated to detail here, Hearn ordered his stable of players – among them Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths and Dennis Taylor – not to play in the 1989 event.
The Dubai Classic grew into one of the most popular tournaments on the circuit, played as it was in beautiful surroundings amid lavish hospitality.
In six stagings, Stephen Hendry won the title three times, John Parrott twice and Alan McManus once.
It has not been staged since 1994. The Bahrain Championship offers a good chance to reassert the sport’s presence in the Middle East and its addition to the calendar should be welcomed.
One other point: Sir Rodney Walker, the World Snooker chairman, says in the press release that, “we intend to continue to exploit the potential of markets where snooker is popular, and to provide great entertainment to an ever-growing international fan base.”
Outside of the UK and China, there is no country in the world where snooker is as popular as it is in Germany.
The recent World Series event in Berlin attracted huge crowds and across Eastern Europe in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Hungary snooker is increasing in popularity all the time.
Now that this Middle East event has been secured, World Snooker should turn its attentions to continental Europe and, in particular, the German market that is currently untapped.