EN BREF Issue #3
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Saudi
see: Saudi Snippets
ZIAD IS HERE TO STAY…
For the few people out there who thought that the Saudi Open would
be a fluke, this 2006 edition must be a big slap in the face, as the
promoter, Ziad Al Turki, has now the full support of the
last year was a bit of a struggle, because nobody really helped us
as they didn’t know what it was all about, this year, we’ve got the
full support of the officials. We didn’t have any problems, or very
little, to get the visas, all the Newspapers are reporting widely on
the event, and the Saudi TV has been showing most of the matches
live, which is a great achievement for squash in this country," Ziad
"The Government now realises that we are changing the image that the
world has of Saudi Arabia, because when they see the images, when
they read your site, when the players explain how well they are
received here, the perception that the people have of our country
And as I told you, Ziad and his team has a lot of ambitions for this
sport, and has even landed the services of a marketing company to
try to see how they could expand to other countries and not be
limited to Saudi’s frontiers.
Only the beginning, I warned you…
Ziad with PSA Chief Exec Gawain Briars
and PSA Chairman Jack Herrick
DELIERRE IS IN TOWN…
What a great pleasure this trip have been for many reasons, one of
them being the joy of working next to talented, perfectionist,
lunatic and passionate Canadian TV and DVD producer Jean DeLierre.
the world of squash, he is famous for his up market DVDs for which
he spends hours before the event planning shots, lighting and camera
set up, during the matches, terrorising the whole of the local
surroundings who do not know why a strange little white turning to
red man is asking them to do things they never heard of before, and
after the tournament, days and nights editing what later become pure
little gems of art work.
And the great news is that the Passionate Canadian will cover the
Toronto Classic and the Chicago Open in January, where I will have
the chance to be for the first time.
All good, people, all good…
THE PLACE TO BE
In all the soaps, in all the films, in all the plays, you always
have THAT special place, that special bar, restaurant, café, where
the whole village meets up and exchange gossips.
Well, here in Sunset Beach, it’s “the Deli”. We could go elsewhere I
guess, as the magnetic card lets us eat wherever we want, but this
place is not expensive at all, the food is excellent, the waiters
are adorable, it’s virtually on the water, and they serve until
midnight. And that has been VERY useful as we had some pretty heavy
The locals, all dressed up beautifully and distinguished are a bit
surprised to see a string of more than casual trainers and sports
bags all over the room, but they have accepted us quite openly, and
I even had the pleasure to speak with the few ladies who, and you
will not be surprised, spoke not only Arabic and English, but also
French, putting us all to shame really…
If you come by, do not hesitate to order their “croissant
croque-monsieur”, it’s a pure delight…
THE WELSH CONNECTION…
Last year, it was the referees who came from Wales in force, Roy
Gingell and Peter Lawrence. And this year, it’s the TV commentary,
as our own Voice of Squash Robert Edwards, as ever, but also
Alex Gough, who lost in the second round against World number
one Amr Shabana.
”Ziad approached me about a couple of months ago and asked me if I
would be interested in doing the commentary, and later on, put me in
touch with Jean Delierre.”
”So far, it’s been very good. I have done a couple of Sky programs
with Robert before, so we knew what to expect. And at the start of
the tournament, although Robert was not working constantly with me,
we did a few matches to be ready for the quarters onwards”.
I’m sitting next to them in the stand, and I’m actually enjoying the
commentary, and learning more and more about what I don’t know that
could fill a book about squash… I’m sure you will too.
Saudi Arabia Squash Tournament 2006
by Sharifa Al-Turki
the first day, I was really excited to see everyone. But then I
realised that people were saying hi to me and I did not really know
them, so I felt a bit shy.
Also, since I’ve been living in the UK, I can’t really speak Arabic.
It was kind of embarrassing when I was talking to someone who I
think was kind of important, and I didn’t understand a word he was
But then I saw one of the professional squash players that I was
really good friends with. His name is Ramy Ashour. He is from Egypt
and he is 19 years old. He has a big brother who’s name is Hisham,
he is 24 years old. There are both really nice, and are so much fun
to be with.
I met a new friend from the PSA tournament, his name is Karim
Darwish, he is also from Egypt. He’s engaged to a woman professional
squash player, she is number fifteen in the word.
the second day, I was settled in. I was hanging around with all my
friends and family for a while. Then I was watching some matches.
That night, I went out to dinner with Ramy, Hisham and Karim with
one of their friends.
On the third day, I watched four matches. One of them was Amr
Shabana against Mohammed Abbas. I got the game ball. Thank God
Shabana won I said to myself. Also James Willstrop won against
On the fourth day, there was only two matches. The first one was Amr
Shabana against James Willstrop. Amr Shabana won. And Greg Gaultier
against David Palmer, and Greg won!
That leaves us to the finals. On the last day, I think Amr Shabana
is gonna win.
EN BREF Issue #2
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Saudi
ANASTASIA MY SAVIOUR
It has to be said that we are actually freezing. “Come to Saudi”,
they said, “you’ll see the sun, the sea, the fun”… Well, so far, we
had all three, but nobody told us, or the Saudi people actually,
that we would be reaching temperatures unheard of for many many
is a freak of nature”, confined Anastasia Al Turki, Ziad’s
adorable wife I had the honour of meeting and introducing to you
already last year, who very kindly, shared the warm and comfy sheep
coat that she came to steal from her husband while we were watching
Thierry playing Adrian in the second round.
Actually this morning, I had to have a heater put in my room, as
mine was not working, and they had to look hard for it, as it was
tucked away in some shelter somewhere.
“I’ve been here six years and we've never been as cold as that, so
we never had to use heating before”, the Maintenance Man told me.
And as he was bringing me a second one for the bathroom, the
electricity circuit blew up, not used to such demand…!
As journalist Martin Bronstein once said to me “You create chaos
wherever you go.”
He is so right I’m afraid…
met quite a few players parents by now, but I must say I can’t wait
to meet Ramy and Hisham Ashour’s dad.
I’ve had the privilege to meet their mum after Ramy’s victory
against Lee, and the poor woman was overcome with emotion.
Their father on the other hand, Chef de Cabine at Egypt Air,
Mohamed Ashour, is a bit of a dead pan, and after Hisham’s
defeat against Greg, sent him a text, “Hard luck, son, not to worry,
3/0 is not too bad.”
Betrayed by your own ...
FOLLOW THE GUIDE…
Now I’ve moved into Sunset beach after a few nights spent in
a hotel about 30 minutes drive from the action, I thought you would
like a guided tour of the place, to help you understand how it all
We are about 45 minutes to an hour from Bahrain Aiport, in a private
Estate highly secured and where the dress code is more relaxed,
meaning I do not have to be fully covered at all time as I would
have in the rest of the country.
It is a stunning place on the seaside that comprises villas of
course, with several bedrooms, like the one that Robert Edwards and
our Steve Cubbins share, as Steve is helping the Voice of Squash
with his 24,506 jobs, but also the Sport Centre where we are based,
squash & badminton, a bit further out, a swimming pool and a spa, a
few restaurants, children's play areas, Ten Pin Bowling, Doctor and
Masseur on site, a little supermarket and even a fire station at the
entrance of the place. And of course, boating…
I’m in the same area than the players who are sharing what they call
“cabanas”, which are comprehensive one room bungalows with twin beds
directly on the beach. And although the temperature is far from
aestival, the feel that you get for that simple and stunning view
from our room, the sea, the lawn, the wind that shakes slowly the
trees … Priceless.
So far the transport, organised by Khamees, has been really good,
the drivers have been spot on time and extremely helpful. Also, all
the people involved in the event have been given a magnetic card
that allows us to get three meals a day, which makes our life so
easy, another proof of the organisational excellence of the
We don’t have a golf course here, but we have the golf karts, that
make that typical electrical noise, which are used (and very
practical as the walk from the villas to the cabanas for example is
rather a long journey) all over the compound.
I of course succeed to get lost a few times, but I must say it is
such a great feeling to be able to walk tranquilly from your room to
the restaurants to the venue. Only downside, I don’t have access to
internet in my room, which means that I haven’t been able to work at
night as I would normally do.
So I’ve now been introduced to a new concept: night, sleep.
Interesting. Different, but interesting…
THE BACK COURT FEEL
on the first day, 15 of the 18 matches were played on the two side
by side glass back court about 100 yards from the main glass court,
the second day matches were split between the main court and one
glass back. As is logical, most of the spectators went to the main
So only very few of us were left to watch some pretty good players
battling away for a quarter final spot. And there was the same kind
of intimacy around those matches that you normally find in the
English County leagues, you know, the guys fighting more for pride
than for anything else, in front of a few mates.
if I do like the spectacular show that the glass court, the lights,
the music, the hundreds / thousands sometimes bring, you cannot beat
that close to the glass, hear the guys breathing and thinking feel.
It’s just pure magic, sorry.
THE FROG SPLASHES IT AGAIN…
You are NOT going to believe this, but yesterday and today, whereas
it's not supposed to at this time of year, it actually poured out
with rain all day.
We are not talking a few drops here and there, Normandy France
style, you know, good for the lawn and all, no, here, we are talking
buckets and buckets, torrential rain in a period when it didn’t rain
for 20 years.
not as bad as Kuwait last year as we were still able to play, but
some matches had to be rescheduled, we were all a bit touch and go
for about two hours, but as ever, the Calm above the Chaos Robert
Edwards kept everybody under control, Ziad made sure that his team
was preventing the water from damaging not only the court but also
all the cameras present for the Opening Ceremony.
If you’d asked me at 4pm was Olli going to be able to play against
the Saudi Wild Card Mohammed Taher Al-Saif at 8pm, I would have
laughed in your face,… But hey, nothing is impossible here, and we
eventually went on, nearly on schedule.
To conclude, my site
www.you-want-rain-invite-the-frog.com is still under
construction, but we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready…
BAD DAY FOR THE REF…
And the tournament hadn't even started ...
It was a long day for Ayaz Khan, one of the three Pakistani referees
present in Saudi, as it took him 24 hours to get from Islamabad,
Pakistan, to Bahrain…
His first flight on the 14th was delayed from 6pm to midnight, so he
obviously missed his connection in Muscat, ended up in a hotel, got
a second flight in the morning that was also delayed, and ended up
in Bahrain, but with a visa that stipulated that he had to fly into
Saudi, not drive.
Thank God, a solution was finally found, and he reached Al Khobar on
the 15th at 4.30pm, but not with his luggage, as they just happened
to get lost somewhere along the way…
And you thought you had a bad day…
MARRIAGE FRENZY IN PAKISTAN…
What is going on in the world of Squash over there? Forget the
politics, the wedding season has been prolific this year. The
legendary coach Rahmat Khan got married to a young lady from
Karachi, and he’s going through the paperwork to have her come and
live with him in Kuwait where he now works.
International referee Ayaz Khan also, after long years of
celibacy, has now wed an English lady called Jasmin, and he's
looking at different options after his contract with the Pakistan
But it’s not only the officials that get married. The players too,
as Shahid Zaman is now Mansoor Zaman’s brother in law, as
Shahid married Mansoor's sister right after the Pakistan Open, while
Mansoor is engaged to their uncle’s daughter, and would have
been married by now only for a death in the family that postponed
Is it something in the water…?