Shahzad Altaf is a former UAE cricket player from the 1996 World Cup. Pictured here coaching his team at the Skyline University. Rebecca Rees / The National
Shahzad Altaf is a former UAE cricket player from the 1996 World Cup. Pictured here coaching his team at the Skyline University. Rebecca Rees / The National

Shahzad Altaf still giving back to UAE cricket 19 years after World Cup showing

Shahzad Altaf plays an important role in the UAE being at the World Cup after 19 years, Paul Radley writes

Remnants of the 1996 Cricket World Cup and its influence on UAE cricket are few, in fact, almost none.

About half of the squad who represented the national team in their first appearance at cricket’s biggest event 19 years ago still live in the country, but barely any retain an active involvement in the sport.

Sultan Zarawani, the charismatic Emirati who captained and essentially bankrolled that side, has rarely stepped onto a cricket field since.


Though he did much to entrench the idea of a representative team in a nation where cricket has always been seen as a foreign game. He quickly distanced himself from the game’s new establishment after their World Cup sojourn.

Others have drifted back to their homelands, their moments of fame consigned to some long-forgotten archives.

Fortunately for UAE cricket, though, there is one veteran of 1996 who still has his fingerprints all over the game here.

Shahzad Altaf played two games at the subcontinent World Cup. As a gentle medium-paced seam-bowler, he took one wicket, that of the Netherlands opener Nolan Clarke.

Listen to him talking for long and you might guess the fact he conceded 15 runs from his 10 overs in the win over the Dutch was his finest achievement in cricket.

Statistically, maybe, but it is not. Not by a long shot.

After ending his playing association with the national team a couple of years after that World Cup, Altaf devoted himself to coaching and UAE cricket has been grateful to him ever since.

The Young Talents Cricket Academy he set up has become a voracious production line for players who have represented the UAE.

In a country where the pathway between junior sport and senior representative teams is often a difficult one, his strike rate is remarkable.

Of the 30-man probables squad named ahead of the World Cup, Altaf had given five their first chance in cricket, a fair feat given the high percentage of newly arrived expatriate players in the game here.

“My life is cricket,” Altaf said. “You will always see me at the ground.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing children playing cricket and enjoying it.”

At age 57, he employs a staff of coaches at his academy and tutors only on the weekends when he conducts specialist, one-to-one work with the most promising among the 150 or so players in his academy.

“We give very tough coaching to the boys we think have a future in the game,” said Altaf, whose annual junior cricket competition has hosted the likes of subsequent England international Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick.

Two of the UAE’s 2015 World Cup squad are alumni of his academy: Andri Berenger, the highly regarded opening batsman who played Under 19 cricket for Sri Lanka, and Fahad Al Hashmi, the Emirati seam bowler.

It is not just the technical advice he provided that aided the players’ progression. Stories from the good old days helped sustain them, too.

“He was brilliant,” Berenger said of his first cricket coach before leaving for his World Cup debut with the UAE.

“He told me about going to the World Cup, told me how he used to get Sri Lankans out. He was bragging about that. It must have been a nice feeling to play in the World Cup.”

The national team beyond this World Cup is likely to be well peopled by Altaf proteges.

Ahmed Raza, another UAE international who just missed out on the final squad when it was trimmed to 15, was 10 years old when he first attended the academy.

Still only 26, Raza has been representing the national team for the past decade and captained the side in its most recent one-day international, a win over Afghanistan in Dubai.

Not bad for a player who was persuaded to be a spinner after starting out at Altaf’s academy with aspirations as a fast bowler.

“He had no pace, that is why we suggested he try spin,” Altaf said.

Since that eureka moment, Raza has not looked back, although he did start to look down on people.

Altaf dispensed his advice when Raza was a relatively short teenager but now he is strikingly tall, which would have been a handy attribute for a quick bowler.

Raza said he was a medium pacer – “I won’t call myself a fast bowler at all” – who used to bat a bit. But he was dropped from the national Under-15 squad.

“I was not very tall at that point and Shahzad told me I had a lot of competition as a left-arm swing bowler, that I didn’t have zip and should turn myself into a spinner.

“He turned me into a spinner. He came up with the idea and it all worked.”

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Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

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How being social media savvy can improve your well being

Next time when procastinating online remember that you can save thousands on paying for a personal trainer and a gym membership simply by watching YouTube videos and keeping up with the latest health tips and trends.

As social media apps are becoming more and more consumed by health experts and nutritionists who are using it to awareness and encourage patients to engage in physical activity.

Elizabeth Watson, a personal trainer from Stay Fit gym in Abu Dhabi suggests that “individuals can use social media as a means of keeping fit, there are a lot of great exercises you can do and train from experts at home just by watching videos on YouTube”.

Norlyn Torrena, a clinical nutritionist from Burjeel Hospital advises her clients to be more technologically active “most of my clients are so engaged with their phones that I advise them to download applications that offer health related services”.

Torrena said that “most people believe that dieting and keeping fit is boring”.

However, by using social media apps keeping fit means that people are “modern and are kept up to date with the latest heath tips and trends”.

“It can be a guide to a healthy lifestyle and exercise if used in the correct way, so I really encourage my clients to download health applications” said Mrs Torrena.

People can also connect with each other and exchange “tips and notes, it’s extremely healthy and fun”.

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Number of Chinese tourists coming to UAE in 2017 was... 1.3m

Alibaba’s new ‘Tech Town’  in Dubai is worth... $600m

China’s investment in the MIddle East in 2016 was... $29.5bn

The world’s most valuable start-up in 2018, TikTok, is valued at... $75bn

Boost to the UAE economy of 5G connectivity will be... $269bn 

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

UAE tour of the Netherlands

UAE squad: Rohan Mustafa (captain), Shaiman Anwar, Ghulam Shabber, Mohammed Qasim, Rameez Shahzad, Mohammed Usman, Adnan Mufti, Chirag Suri, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Mohammed Naveed, Amjad Javed, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed

Fixtures: Monday, first 50-over match; Wednesday, second 50-over match; Thursday, third 50-over match

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Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Company Profile

Company name: NutriCal

Started: 2019

Founder: Soniya Ashar

Based: Dubai

Industry: Food Technology

Initial investment: Self-funded undisclosed amount

Future plan: Looking to raise fresh capital and expand in Saudi Arabia

Total Clients: Over 50

Bert van Marwijk factfile

Born: May 19 1952
Place of birth: Deventer, Netherlands
Playing position: Midfielder

Teams managed:
1998-2000 Fortuna Sittard
2000-2004 Feyenoord
2004-2006 Borussia Dortmund
2007-2008 Feyenoord
2008-2012 Netherlands
2013-2014 Hamburg
2015-2017 Saudi Arabia
2018 Australia

Major honours (manager):
2001/02 Uefa Cup, Feyenoord
2007/08 KNVB Cup, Feyenoord
World Cup runner-up, Netherlands


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Platform: Android 14, One UI 6.1

Main camera: quad 200MP wide f/1.7 + 50MP periscope telephoto f/3.4 with 5x optical/10x optical quality zoom + 10MP telephoto 2.4 with 3x optical zoom + 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2; 100x Space Zoom; auto HDR, expert RAW

Video: 8K@24/30fps, 4K@30/60/120fps, full-HD@30/60/240fps, full-HD super slo-mo@960fps

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Battery: 5000mAh, fast wireless charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC

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SIM: Nano + nano / nano + eSIM / dual eSIM (varies in different markets)

Colours: Titanium black, titanium grey, titanium violet, titanium yellow

In the box: Galaxy S24 Ultra, USB-C-to-C cable

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Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

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Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and


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Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
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Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
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Based: Vienna, Austria
Sector: Construction and real estate
Current number of staff: 400+
Investment stage: Series B
Investors: Headline, Berliner Volksbank Ventures, aws Gründerfonds, Cavalry Ventures, Proptech1, Russmedia, GR Capital

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Story behind the UAE flag

The UAE flag was first unveiled on December 2, 1971, the day the UAE was formed. 

It was designed by Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, 19, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi. 

Mr Al Maainah said in an interview with The National in 2011 he chose the colours for local reasons. 

The black represents the oil riches that transformed the UAE, green stands for fertility and the red and white colours were drawn from those found in existing emirate flags.

Company info

Company name: Entrupy 

Co-founders: Vidyuth Srinivasan, co-founder/chief executive, Ashlesh Sharma, co-founder/chief technology officer, Lakshmi Subramanian, co-founder/chief scientist

Based: New York, New York

Sector/About: Entrupy is a hardware-enabled SaaS company whose mission is to protect businesses, borders and consumers from transactions involving counterfeit goods.  

Initial investment/Investors: Entrupy secured a $2.6m Series A funding round in 2017. The round was led by Tokyo-based Digital Garage and Daiwa Securities Group's jointly established venture arm, DG Lab Fund I Investment Limited Partnership, along with Zach Coelius. 

Total customers: Entrupy’s customers include hundreds of secondary resellers, marketplaces and other retail organisations around the world. They are also testing with shipping companies as well as customs agencies to stop fake items from reaching the market in the first place. 

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Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The Specs

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

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Director: Sree Narayan Singh
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Divyenndu Sharma, Yami Gautam
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