THE Middle East will stage a world-ranking snooker tournament for the first time this year, with Bahrain hosting a new event from November 8-15.

The World Snooker Bahrain Championship will take place in the capital Manama.

The world’s top 16 players will be automatically seeded into the final stages of the tournament, to be joined by 16 qualifiers and six local wild cards.

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.”

Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the WPBSA and World Snooker, added: “This is a major step in our strategy to make professional snooker a global sport.”