The 43-year-old defeated Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Jumaniyazov to win the white belt Master 2, 62kg division at the IPIC Arena.
The feat is even more remarkable considering he only started jiu-jitsu last year, and he said: “This is my first gold medal in three competitions since I started jiu-jitsu.
“I won a silver at the Dubai Open and bronze at Sharjah Open. Now to stand on the top of the podium with a gold medal in a world championship is like a dream come true.
“I had competed in athletics from 1989 in Dubai and then I gave it up after 10 years. But I never gave up on going to the gym.
“With fitness a passion of mine, I saw a group of people doing jiu-jitsu in their class at a gym in Sharjah and I asked if I could join. I’ve learnt a lot and it’s a sport that I like very much now.”
His compatriots were unable to follow in his footsteps with the UAE winning four silvers and two bronzes during the day.
There was success for Portugal’s Paulo Pereira as the 35-year-old overcame Emirati Obaid Kaabi to win gold in the purple belt Master 2, 62kg category.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement for me. To win a gold medal for my country, especially in an overseas world competition, is amazing,” said Pereira.
“I really had to work hard because Kaabi was a tough opponent and the standard in Abu Dhabi is very high. This will give me a lot of confidence going forward and hopefully it can inspire more Portuguese people to take up the sport back home.”
It was a day to remember for Ali Hemadeh. He will travel back to Lebanon with two medals, having won gold and bronze in the blue belt 74 kg in Masters 2, and then in the Open division.
Although he had to pay out of his own pocket for some of the expen-ses, he insists the decision to compete was definitely worth it.
“During the day, I work as a veterinarian doctor so the only time I can do jiu-jitsu is during nights. This is a reward for all the time I have put in,” he said.
“The Lebanese Jiu-Jitsu Federation has helped us to come here but very little financially. They gave us half the amount for our flights. Then you have registration and accommodation fees to take care of, so it becomes heavy in the pockets. But it is the passion that has brought me here.”