Badr Hari of Morrocco, right, is proud to fight as a Muslim in a Muslim country for the first time. Ronen Zilberman / AP Photo
Badr Hari of Morrocco, right, is proud to fight as a Muslim in a Muslim country for the first time. Ronen Zilberman / AP Photo

Badr Hari or ‘The Cobra’ ready to strike back in Dubai



Badr Hari is not someone you want to upset.

In June 2005, the Dutch-Moroccan kick-boxer was knocked out by a trademark spinning back kick from Croatian-German Stefan Leko.

After getting severe criticism from the Dutch public for his loss, the heavyweight fighter decided he would no longer represent the Dutch flag, but that of Morocco. Revenge would follow.

Hari, who now holds dual nationalities, is in Dubai for Thursday night’s Global Fighting Championship, a kick boxing tournament with prize money of Dh1 million up for grabs.

His opponent? The 39-year-old Leko.

Hari, 29, is 193 centimetres tall and looks pretty cool. He’s also charming.

“It’s the first time for me fighting as a Muslim, in a Muslim country,” he said at yesterday’s news conference.

It is the latest milestone in Hari’s career.

In 2007 in Hawaii, Hari defeated Yusuke Fujimoto in 56 seconds to become the first K-1 Heavyweight Champion. Two years later, he clinched the It’s Showtime Heavyweight Championship (+95kg) by beating Semmy Schilt, making him the only fighter to have won the competition three times in a row.

He has earned several nicknames: “The Golden Boy”, “Devil Prince of Morocco” and “The Cobra”.

Also, “The Bad Boy”, for his short temper and several incidents outside the ring.

In Dubai yesterday he looked relaxed and very much at home.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been in Dubai, I’ve been here many times, but it’s been on holiday,” Hari said. “But, like I said, this is first time for me fighting in an Islamic country and it was always a big thing for me to achieve that, to make that come true.”

Hari has been in Dubai for the past 19 days, getting himself into shape for his fight. If he wins he will meet the winner of the fight between Peter Graham and Arnold Oborotov for the big prize.

“The preparation is very good, the first four or five days it was tough to get used to the heat,” said Hari, who weighs 109 kilograms. “It’s very warm and humid, and I was getting tired every time I trained. But for the last week it’s been very good, I’m getting used to it and getting in shape.”

Not that his training has been done outdoors. With temperatures hitting 40°C during the day, sessions are strictly indoor affairs.

“Listen, even walking outside is already heavy here,” Hari said, laughing. “It’s just getting used to the weather, it was very hard but I think I did very well.”

For Hari, the mental conditioning is as vital as the physical one.

“It’s always better to come somewhere earlier to get used to the place, where to eat, where to stay, it is all very important,” he said. “I do this most of the time, whenever I go to a country I stay two or three weeks, to get the feel of the place and the people.”

Hari began kick-boxing at the age of seven with former world champion Mousid Akamrane in Amsterdam and knew from a young age what destiny he had. “I was too young to know for sure that I will be [a champion], but it was at the age of 12 or 13 that I was already focused on getting to where I am now,” Hari said.

It was by no means an easy route to success. Conservative Arab families put heavy emphasis on education and are often reluctant to let their children deviate from an academic path. Hari’s were no different.

“For me it was the same, school is very important,” he said. “It’s the basis of our lives, to gain knowledge, but what I say to people is chase your dreams, because that’s also very important.”

As martial arts continue to grow in the Middle East, Hari has a message for both youngsters and parents.

“My parents didn’t support me the first couple of years, because often I wouldn’t go to school but to the gym. They were very hard on me,” he said. “The only thing I can say is trying to find the balance of supporting them in school and in sport. Try to find a way in the middle.”

It worked for Hari and on Thursday night he is keen to show his fans how far he has come.

Revenge for that early loss to Leko had been swift. In November 2005, Hari knocked out his rival at the K-1 Grand Prix.

He is confident of adding another victory to his record of 102 wins (88 knockouts) and 12 Losses.

“I think I will knock him out very quickly, the last time I met him I was just a kid weighing 85 kilos and I was 10 years younger, 19 or 20,” Hari said. “I’m much more experienced, much stronger and he’s become older, he’s almost 40 now. When you get to this level of sports, whether it’s Formula 1 or tennis, a 40-year-old guy cannot win against a 30-year-old guy.”

akhaled@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

The story in numbers

18

This is how many recognised sects Lebanon is home to, along with about four million citizens

450,000

More than this many Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, with about 45 per cent of them living in the country’s 12 refugee camps

1.5 million

There are just under 1 million Syrian refugees registered with the UN, although the government puts the figure upwards of 1.5m

73

The percentage of stateless people in Lebanon, who are not of Palestinian origin, born to a Lebanese mother, according to a 2012-2013 study by human rights organisation Frontiers Ruwad Association

18,000

The number of marriages recorded between Lebanese women and foreigners between the years 1995 and 2008, according to a 2009 study backed by the UN Development Programme

77,400

The number of people believed to be affected by the current nationality law, according to the 2009 UN study

4,926

This is how many Lebanese-Palestinian households there were in Lebanon in 2016, according to a census by the Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue committee

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Company profile

Name: Cashew
Started: 2020
Founders: Ibtissam Ouassif and Ammar Afif
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: FinTech
Funding size: $10m
Investors: Mashreq, others

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

LA LIGA FIXTURES

Friday Celta Vigo v Villarreal (midnight kick-off UAE)

Saturday Sevilla v Real Sociedad (4pm), Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao (7.15pm), Granada v Barcelona (9.30pm), Osasuna v Real Madrid (midnight)

Sunday Levante v Eibar (4pm), Cadiz v Alaves (7.15pm), Elche v Getafe (9.30pm), Real Valladolid v Valencia (midnight)

Monday Huesca v Real Betis (midnight)

Brief scores:

Barcelona 3

Pique 38', Messi 51 (pen), Suarez 82'

Rayo Vallecano 1

De Tomas Gomez 24'

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

Author: Kenneth W Harl
Publisher:
Hanover Square Press
Pages:
576

Countdown to Zero exhibition will show how disease can be beaten

Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease, an international multimedia exhibition created by the American Museum of National History in collaboration with The Carter Center, will open in Abu Dhabi a  month before Reaching the Last Mile.

Opening on October 15 and running until November 15, the free exhibition opens at The Galleria mall on Al Maryah Island, and has already been seen at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

RoboCop: Rogue City

Developer: Teyon
Publisher: Nacon
Console: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC
Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

WHAT START-UPS IS VISA SEEKING?

Enablers of digital services
• Blockchain and cryptocurrency
• Crowdfunding
• Banking-as-a-service
• Banking identification number sponsors
• Issuers/processors
• Programme managers

Digital issuance
• Blockchain and cryptocurrency
• Alternative lending
• Personal financial management
• Money transfer and remittance
• Digital banking (neo banks)
• Digital wallets, peer-to-peer and transfers
• Employee benefits
• Payables
• Corporate cards

Value-add for merchants/consumers
• Data and analytics
• ID, authentication and security
• Insurance technology
• Loyalty
• Merchant services and tools
• Process and payment infrastructure
• Retail technology

SME recovery
• Money movement
• Acceptance
• Risk management
• Brand management

New categories for 2023
• Sustainable FinTechs
• Risk
• Urban mobility

Racecard

6.35pm: American Business Council – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Dirt) 1,600m

7.10pm: British Business Group – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,200m

7.45pm: CCI France UAE – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 1,400m

8.20pm: Czech Business Council – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,400m

8.55pm: Netherlands Business Council – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 1,600m

9.30pm: Indian Business and Professional Council – Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 1,200m

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Most polluted cities in the Middle East

1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

MOST POLLUTED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 201hp at 5,200rpm

Torque: 320Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

Price: Dh133,900

On sale: now

ETFs explained

Exhchange traded funds are bought and sold like shares, but operate as index-tracking funds, passively following their chosen indices, such as the S&P 500, FTSE 100 and the FTSE All World, plus a vast range of smaller exchanges and commodities, such as gold, silver, copper sugar, coffee and oil.

ETFs have zero upfront fees and annual charges as low as 0.07 per cent a year, which means you get to keep more of your returns, as actively managed funds can charge as much as 1.5 per cent a year.

There are thousands to choose from, with the five biggest providers BlackRock’s iShares range, Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs, Deutsche Bank AWM X-trackers and Invesco PowerShares.

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

DMZ facts
  • The DMZ was created as a buffer after the 1950-53 Korean War.
  • It runs 248 kilometers across the Korean Peninsula and is 4km wide.
  • The zone is jointly overseen by the US-led United Nations Command and North Korea.
  • It is littered with an estimated 2 million mines, tank traps, razor wire fences and guard posts.
  • Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met at a building in Panmunjom, where an armistice was signed to stop the Korean War.
  • Panmunjom is 52km north of the Korean capital Seoul and 147km south of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
  • Former US president Bill Clinton visited Panmunjom in 1993, while Ronald Reagan visited the DMZ in 1983, George W. Bush in 2002 and Barack Obama visited a nearby military camp in 2012. 
  • Mr Trump planned to visit in November 2017, but heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from landing.
MO

Creators: Mohammed Amer, Ramy Youssef

Stars: Mohammed Amer, Teresa Ruiz, Omar Elba

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Mamo

Year it started: 2019 Founders: Imad Gharazeddine, Asim Janjua

Based: Dubai, UAE

Number of employees: 28

Sector: Financial services

Investment: $9.5m

Funding stage: Pre-Series A Investors: Global Ventures, GFC, 4DX Ventures, AlRajhi Partners, Olive Tree Capital, and prominent Silicon Valley investors.

Getting there and where to stay

Etihad Airways operates seasonal flights from Abu Dhabi to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport. Services depart the UAE on Wednesdays and Sundays with outbound flights stopping briefly in Rome, return flights are non-stop. Fares start from Dh3,315, flights operate until September 18, 2022. 

The Radisson Blu Hotel Nice offers a western location right on Promenade des Anglais with rooms overlooking the Bay of Angels. Stays are priced from €101 ($114), including taxes.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

CHELSEA SQUAD

Arrizabalaga, Bettinelli, Rudiger, Christensen, Silva, Chalobah, Sarr, Azpilicueta, James, Kenedy, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Saul, Barkley, Ziyech, Pulisic, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Werner, Havertz, Lukaku. 

Nick's journey in numbers

Countries so far: 85

Flights: 149

Steps: 3.78 million

Calories: 220,000

Floors climbed: 2,000

Donations: GPB37,300

Prostate checks: 5

Blisters: 15

Bumps on the head: 2

Dog bites: 1


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