When Ali Abdulla isn't working as a policeman, a big part of his life involves football. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National
When Ali Abdulla isn't working as a policeman, a big part of his life involves football. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National

Football focus

Ali Abdulla’s life belongs to his neighbourhood.

The palm farmer’s son was born in Al Maaridh, a coastal neighbourhood of sand brick and breeze block homes in Ras Al Khaimah.

Old neighbourhoods like these have witnessed a recent exodus of young men who leave for flashier neighbourhoods sprung from government housing grants.

Abdulla, 27, has stayed put.

“I love it in Maaridh, I was born here,” he said. “My whole family is here. It’s an easy life. Everything’s near.”

The sea merchant’s neighbourhood is a place of markets — fish, race pigeon, goat, cloth and carpentry — surrounded by courtyard homes of Arab, Asian and Africans families.

Once renowned for its rich maritime history, Al Maaridh is famous these days for two things: Salem Juma’a, “The Horse”, a former pearl diver, royal coffee server and imam who fathered 52 children, and for its nameless football club. Three generations of neighbourhood teams play in the sandy courtyard of the abandoned Al Sirkal House, a dilapidated two-storey building once inhabited by a wealthy merchant family.

In Al Maaridh, football is everything. Abdulla is a goalkeeper.

The policeman is known for his love of Ronaldo. He once shaved his head in the style worn by the Brazilian footballer.

Days are spent with his six siblings or with friends at a street-side majlis, where they play video games, chat and watch films. The majlis was rebuilt this week as a permanent tent, upholstered in rich turquoise-and-gold thread. Everyone donated what they could for the Dh10,000 tent.

The footballers are also avid rowers and compete at national events. Abdulla does not row but goes to cheer at Abu Dhabi and Dubai events. His support, they say, is essential to their success.

Favourite team?

Real Madrid. I’ve followed them since 2003.

Why is the best thing about your neighbourhood, Al Maaridh?

I love it in Maaridh, I was born here. My whole family is here. It’s an easy life.

Favourite player?

Ronaldo. I like how he controls the ball.

Favourite film?

I like the film 300. I like action, fighting.

Favourite reciter of the Quran?

Idris Abkar. The sound of the Quran is beautiful. I love all the verses.

Favourite country to visit?

Saudi and Thailand. Saudi Arabia to visit God’s house and Thailand for the weather.

Favourite video game?

Fifa for PlayStation. I love football.

Best advice from your father?

My father passed away. He said: “Don’t forget to pray, don’t cause difficulties for the poor and give respect to everybody. Prayer brings peace.”

Best place in the country?

Dubai. There are so many malls. And I like Global Village.

Favourite action hero?

Rambo. Sylvester Stallone. He’s got so much action and he has a great face.


Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

From September 18-25, Abu Dhabi . The two finalists advance to the main event in South Africa in February 2023

Group A: United States, Ireland, Scotland, Bangladesh
Group B: UAE, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea

UAE group fixtures:
Sept 18, 3pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium – UAE v Thailand
Sept 19, 3pm, Tolerance Oval - PNG v UAE
Sept 21, 7pm, Tolerance Oval – UAE v Zimbabwe

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Rinitha Rajith, Rithika Rajith, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

Forced Deportations

While the Lebanese government has deported a number of refugees back to Syria since 2011, the latest round is the first en-mass campaign of its kind, say the Access Center for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization which monitors the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“In the past, the Lebanese General Security was responsible for the forced deportation operations of refugees, after forcing them to sign papers stating that they wished to return to Syria of their own free will. Now, the Lebanese army, specifically military intelligence, is responsible for the security operation,” said Mohammad Hasan, head of ACHR.
In just the first four months of 2023 the number of forced deportations is nearly double that of the entirety of 2022.

Since the beginning of 2023, ACHR has reported 407 forced deportations – 200 of which occurred in April alone.

In comparison, just 154 people were forcfully deported in 2022.


Instances of violence against Syrian refugees are not uncommon.

Just last month, security camera footage of men violently attacking and stabbing an employee at a mini-market went viral. The store’s employees had engaged in a verbal altercation with the men who had come to enforce an order to shutter shops, following the announcement of a municipal curfew for Syrian refugees.
“They thought they were Syrian,” said the mayor of the Nahr el Bared municipality, Charbel Bou Raad, of the attackers.
It later emerged the beaten employees were Lebanese. But the video was an exemplary instance of violence at a time when anti-Syrian rhetoric is particularly heated as Lebanese politicians call for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria.


Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

The specs

Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder and 3.6-litre 6-cylinder

Power: 220 and 280 horsepower

Torque: 350 and 360Nm

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Price: from Dh136,521 + VAT and Dh166,464 + VAT 

On sale: now

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Two-step truce

The UN-brokered ceasefire deal for Hodeidah will be implemented in two stages, with the first to be completed before the New Year begins, according to the Arab Coalition supporting the Yemeni government.

By midnight on December 31, the Houthi rebels will have to withdraw from the ports of Hodeidah, Ras Issa and Al Saqef, coalition officials told The National. 

The second stage will be the complete withdrawal of all pro-government forces and rebels from Hodeidah city, to be completed by midnight on January 7.

The process is to be overseen by a Redeployment Co-ordination Committee (RCC) comprising UN monitors and representatives of the government and the rebels.

The agreement also calls the deployment of UN-supervised neutral forces in the city and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to ensure distribution of aid across the country.


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The biog

Hobby: Playing piano and drawing patterns

Best book: Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Food of choice: Sushi  

Favourite colour: Orange



Rating: 4/5

Produced by: Poetic License Motion Pictures; RSVP Movies

Director: Ritesh Batra

Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar, Deepak Chauhan, Vijay Raaz

The Saga Continues

Wu-Tang Clan

(36 Chambers / Entertainment One)


Name: DarDoc
Based: Abu Dhabi
Founders: Samer Masri, Keswin Suresh
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding: $800,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, angel investors + Incubated by Hub71, Abu Dhabi's Department of Health
Number of employees: 10

Tax authority targets shisha levy evasion

The Federal Tax Authority will track shisha imports with electronic markers to protect customers and ensure levies have been paid.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director of the tax authority, on Sunday said the move is to "prevent tax evasion and support the authority’s tax collection efforts".

The scheme’s first phase, which came into effect on 1st January, 2019, covers all types of imported and domestically produced and distributed cigarettes. As of May 1, importing any type of cigarettes without the digital marks will be prohibited.

He said the latest phase will see imported and locally produced shisha tobacco tracked by the final quarter of this year.

"The FTA also maintains ongoing communication with concerned companies, to help them adapt their systems to meet our requirements and coordinate between all parties involved," he said.

As with cigarettes, shisha was hit with a 100 per cent tax in October 2017, though manufacturers and cafes absorbed some of the costs to prevent prices doubling.

The biog

Favourite hobby: I love to sing but I don’t get to sing as much nowadays sadly.

Favourite book: Anything by Sidney Sheldon.

Favourite movie: The Exorcist 2. It is a big thing in our family to sit around together and watch horror movies, I love watching them.

Favourite holiday destination: The favourite place I have been to is Florence, it is a beautiful city. My dream though has always been to visit Cyprus, I really want to go there.