Mohammed Yahya wants to finish opponent Omar Chammara in the first round tomorrow night. Jaime Puebla / The National
Mohammed Yahya wants to finish opponent Omar Chammara in the first round tomorrow night. Jaime Puebla / The National

MMA: Fight night's lone Emirati aims for top with backing of family

DUBAI // With an ultra-aggressive outlook and a method that leans heavily on kick-boxing, Mohammed Yahya is well equipped to cope in the bloodthirsty world of mixed martial arts.

The Emirati fighter is confident he can execute an early knockout when he enters the cage against Omar Chammara for his second competitive bout at Dubai Fight Night II tonight. And those in the know think his confidence is well placed.

However, despite all of the above, he is still not too big to be put over his mother's knee. Having turned 18 in May and still a schoolboy at Winchester in Dubai, Yahya is the youngest Emirati fighter performing at this level.

He acknowledges that his English mother would have preferred him to have picked a more sedate path in life, but he says he now has her full support in his bid to make a career out of MMA.

"It is hard to find a local fighter," said Yahya, who faces Chammara in the lightweight division on tonight's Fight Night card at the Habtoor Grand in Dubai.

"Their parents don't really agree with it. If you tell them you want to be a fighter they tell you to go and look for another thing to do.

"My parents are really supportive. My mum has supported me the whole way. Obviously, she gets worried before every fight and she tells me not to do it, but I have to go with it. She supports me when it comes to the fight."

Although he is ploughing a mostly lonely furrow among Emiratis within the sport, MMA still has a rapidly growing following on the outside of the cage in this country.

When Yahya made his debut in the octagon at the first Fight Night, "the crowd went wild for him because he is Emirati", according to Tam Khan, the event's organiser and promoter.

Which actually served as more of a hindrance than a help at the time. As the crowd noise surged, his energy dissipated. He struggled through the opening round, and eventually laboured to a win after three.

He says he learnt some valuable lessons from his first outing. Most notably, tempering his response to the crowd, but also the simple mechanics of making the weight.

He was forced to lose 4kgs in the three days leading up to the fight, another possible reason for why his stamina took such a hit early in the piece.

This time round he has had to gain weight, a process he has found easier, and his confidence has been fuelled.

"In this fight I'm looking to finish it in the first round," he said.

It is all valuable experience for a young man with lofty ambitions in the sport.

"A few people from school do it, just as a hobby, for fun," he said.

"But I am doing it for my life career. I want to get to the main event, to UFC. Hopefully, one day I will be a champion. I know I will.

"It is tough to reach that level, but everyone starts from the same place. Everyone has two arms and two legs. You just have to work harder than the next guy and you can make it."

It is that attitude, as well as his appetite for hard work, which has caught the attention of the organisers of Fight Night, notably Khan.

Khan, a former professional fighter who coaches at his own MMA gym in Dubai, believes Yahya has the attributes to progress in the sport.

"He has talent to go far, especially for his age," Khan said. "He is so young but he is tough and has time on his side. Wins and losses don't count for him at this point.

"It is all about attitude. I would rather have a fighter who is really young and like him than a fighter with arrogance. He is humble, quiet and listens. They are the attributes that matter to people who make it."

Ali Mokdad, the marketing director of the Dubai Fighting Championship, reckons they have unearthed a gem in the form of Yahya, as well as a fine example for UAE nationals.

"We saw so much talent in him," Mokdad said. "He was passionate, hard working, and the aggressive type as well. He actually went for submissions and went for the finish.

"We saw the fire and desire in him and we gave him a shot, fighting on our last card. He took it up gladly and won his fight. We really feel he could be a great role model for other Emiratis."

Event details

What: Twelve fights, including Mounir Lazzez v Ashkhan Mehdrdadpor

Where: Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai

When: Doors open at 6pm, action starts at 7pm

Tickets: Prices start at Dh200 and are available at Virgin Megastores.

Plan to boost public schools

A major shake-up of government-run schools was rolled out across the country in 2017. Known as the Emirati School Model, it placed more emphasis on maths and science while also adding practical skills to the curriculum.

It was accompanied by the promise of a Dh5 billion investment, over six years, to pay for state-of-the-art infrastructure improvements.

Aspects of the school model will be extended to international private schools, the education minister has previously suggested.

Recent developments have also included the introduction of moral education - which public and private schools both must teach - along with reform of the exams system and tougher teacher licensing requirements.

The Boy and the Heron

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Ko Shibasaki

Rating: 5/5

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor cricket in a nutshell
Indoor Cricket World Cup - Sept 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side
8 There are eight players per team
9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.
5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls
4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.


A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs
B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run
C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs
D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

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


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


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Favourite book: ‘The Art of Learning’ by Josh Waitzkin

Favourite film: Marvel movies

Favourite parkour spot in Dubai: Residence towers in Jumeirah Beach Residence


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