Sport - Golf - Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
The Challenge Tour this week is at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club Image Credit: Harry Grimshaw, Gulf News

The return of the Challenge Tour to the UAE is set to deliver a total economic impact of $1.57 million for Abu Dhabi, which has only been made possible by the support of Official Founding Sponsors of the two events, including Phoenix Capital and Al Laith Group.

Along with the support of Aldar, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Miral and Mediclinic, their sponsorship has been instrumental in bringing the Challenge Tour back to UAE shores, with last week’s Abu Dhabi Challenge and this week’s UAE Challenge marking the first time Europe’s development circuit has been played in the country in five years.

The two new events on the global 2023 Road to Mallorca schedule, which features a record overall prize fund of €8.2 million, have generated 3,290 room nights in the surrounding area, while over 370 staff and media have been working across both weeks, including medical personnel, greenkeepers and maintenance staff.

“At Phoenix Capital, we strive to uphold the same values that make a great golfer – honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship,” said Abdullah Al Naboodah, Chairman of Phoenix Capital.

“This is why we are committed to supporting these two new additions to the Challenge Tour schedule in Abu Dhabi, further showcasing the UAE to the golfing world and creating a pathway for local players to shine on the big stage. I will continue to support golf development in the UAE as I love to see our homegrown players progress to the next level.”

Jason English, CEO of Al Laith Group, added: “The Al Laith Group is thrilled to announce its role as one of the Founding Sponsors of the Abu Dhabi Challenge and UAE Challenge, two exciting professional golf tournaments hosted by the Challenge Tour and the Emirates Golf Federation.

“These tournaments offer a fantastic opportunity for UAE golfers to showcase their skills and compete against world-class players on a global stage. As a keen supporter of sports events, we are proud to contribute to the growth and development of golf in the region. Our support of these events demonstrates our commitment to promoting the game and providing a platform for emerging talent to shine.”

As well as welcoming a plethora of former DP World Tour winners and the next generation of talent from across the world, the two tournaments have created a pathway for both Emirati golfers and residents of the UAE with a total of 60 spots allocated to the EGF over the two-week festival of golf, thanks to the federation’s long-term partnership with the PGA European Tour group.

The two organisations continue to collaborate across all levels of the sport in the UAE, from grassroots initiatives right through to the professional game, building on the Tour’s long-term association with the region which dates back to 1989.

“We’re very grateful to first Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, it’s a great honour to have their two names on our international schedule,” said Jamie Hodges, Head of Challenge Tour.

“We’ve been welcomed here with open arms by the two respective teams, they’ve been fantastic to work with, so I’d like to thank both venues for their support and partnership.

“We’re here as part of the long-term commitment we’ve made with the Emirates Golf Federation to golf in the region. But that commitment is only made possible by the support of partners, it’s they that help us to make these events a reality.

“On behalf of the Emirates Golf Federation and the Challenge Tour, I’d like to thank Phoenix Capital and Al Laith Group for their partnership and support. We’re very grateful to all of them as we start our journey to help grow golf in this part of the world.”

General Abdallah Alhashmi, Vice Chairman, Emirates Golf Federation, added:

“We’re delighted that the Emirates Golf Federation and Challenge Tour are contributing to the overall economy in Abu Dhabi by hosting the Abu Dhabi Challenge and UAE Challenge in the capital.

“As part of our long-term commitment with the PGA European Tour group, these two tournaments have enabled us to give homegrown players in the UAE the opportunity to compete at a high level, which will only help further their development.

“The 30 spots we've been allocated in each event has also allowed us to exchange spots for our players to go and play on the Challenge Tour around the world. It’s a huge opportunity to gain experience.”

The inaugural events in the capital form the latest chapter in the rich history of golf in Abu Dhabi, which has played host to the season-opening Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour schedule for 17 years.

This year’s edition of the first Rolex Series event of the season, which is supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, was preceded by the inaugural staging of the Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, a new team match play contest aimed at giving

Europe’s next generation experience in the format ahead of the Ryder Cup showdown in Rome later this year.

Golf fans in the Middle East are encouraged to come down to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club this week to support a host of the UAE’s homegrown players, as well as the global stars of the future, with entry free of charge and no ticket required.