With unique amenities and unparalleled hospitality, the UAE provides the perfect setting for golf vacations.
Pegged as one of the emerging golf destinations in the world by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators in 2001, Dubai (and the UAE as a whole) has all the ingredients that make it the chosen one for luxury golf vacations.
Signature holes, incredible desert scenery and lush fairways can turn any visitor into the sultan of swing. The warm evenings under a violet sky, the unique amenities and unparalleled hospitality draw hundreds of tourists to the region. Besides the average traveller, more and more professionals are also choosing to plan and attend conferences in Dubai, because of one reason - golf.
The UAE offers luxury golf vacations where you can stay at the world's finest hotels and resorts, which combine luxury accommodation with beautiful locations and fabulous golf courses. These resorts offer perfect golf packages, which include world-class spa facilities, romantic locations and fine dining to ensure that both partners have a golf vacation of a lifetime.
In Dubai, for instance, the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa has a nine-hole standard course. Each course is uniquely landscaped with exotic trees, shrubs and wooden gazebos, and visitors can also use spa facilities.
The Hyatt Regency has the Hyatt Golf Park, located just outside the Galleria Shopping Mall to ensure golfers have a unique shopping experience as well. At the Hatta Fort Hotel, there is the fun-for-the-whole-family mini golf course, a delight for many travellers.
Much of the emirate's golfing action is led by Dubai Golf, which owns and manages the Dubai government golf courses (the Emirates Golf Club with its Wadi and Majlis courses, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and the Nad Al Sheba Club). Dubai Golf also runs Dubai Golf Central Reservations and Dubai Golf Holidays and Events - the only dedicated golf inbound and outbound tour operator in Dubai.
Apart from sponsoring local events and nurturing young talent, Dubai Golf markets the emirate as a premium golf destination around the region and internationally.
"We have fabulous golfing facilities in Dubai. We have some of the best courses in the world and, without doubt, some of the best clubhouses. But besides the quality golf courses, visitors appreciate the guaranteed tee times and the personal attention they receive at all clubs," said Rodney Bogg, Managing Director of Dubai Golf, in one of his media interviews, summing up the reasons behind the region's popularity.
Add to that the year-round sunshine and a culturally diverse experience. Golf visitors to Dubai can be assured of never getting rained-out. Even though temperatures in July and August make the game uncomfortable, the heat can be avoided by playing in the cooler evenings at the Nad al Sheba Club, an 18-hole golf course that is open until midnight, fully illuminated by floodlights.
"We have undertaken a significant amount of development in the last two or three years in redeveloping the club house and golf course at Nad Al Sheba and in rebuilding the Wadi course at Emirates Golf Club. We are also planning to build 100 villas at the Emirates Golf Club to give people a chance to enjoy the improvements," explained Bogg. Keeping in mind the growth of Dubai and its tourism, he expects to see at least six additional golf courses opened by 2010.
According to recent media reports, Tiger Woods is planning to design a world-class golf community in Dubai - the Tiger Woods-Dubai - with Tatweer, part of the Dubai government's investment arm Dubai Holding. Scheduled for completion in late 2009, the golf course will cover 25.3 million square feet at Dubai Land. The course will be professionally managed, with an 80-suite boutique hotel, 300 luxury villas, 20 mansions and a community retail area.
On the global map
If the Desert Classic has been a major factor in putting Dubai on the world's golfing map, the Abu Dhabi Golf Tournament (launched in 2006) has done wonders for the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). Seeking to attract up to three million visitors a year to Abu Dhabi by 2015 (a three-fold increase from the current annual average), ADTA has identified golf tourism as a key area for growth.
In January more than 23,000 spectators turned out for the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship - exceeding the organiser's target of 20,000.
The Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton offers a number of attractive packages for tourists. One of them is the 'Stay and Play' package where a golfer can stay in any of the four Starwood Hotels in Abu Dhabi (which includes Sheraton and Le Meridien), and enjoy a round of golf at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton. The club also offers a Dubai package, where the golfer is picked up and dropped back to Dubai in a limousine. The golfer can play a round of golf at the National Course and enjoy the unrivalled practice facilities at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton.
Golfing is undoubtedly a relaxing experience in Abu Dhabi where tee times are easy to get and golf courses are uncrowded and extremely well maintained.
The rapidly expanding network of Etihad Airways has also helped promote golf tourism in Abu Dhabi. This year, Etihad Holidays, a division of Etihad Airways, unveiled a series of special holiday packages for sports lovers to visit the UAE and experience the excitement of the 2007 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Golfers come here from many countries, but the main feeder markets are Germany, the UK, Finland and Belgium.
If golf is your prime reason for stopping over in Dubai, Arabian Adventures can help you book your golf session, arrange transport to and from the courses, hire equipment and make table reservations at the golf club restaurants. Under this arrangement, one-day golf prices per person at one of the premium golf courses in the emirate vary between $72 to $195 (about Dh265-Dh717), and include one round of golf (18 holes), use of electric golf buggy during the round, club facilities, day lockers in dressing rooms and one bucket of practice range balls prior to play.
Dubai's golf courses draw inspiration from their American counterparts. The courses here were conceived and built with the comforts that Americans added to the game - motorised golf carts, automated GPS yardage devices, beverage carts and half-way houses, comfortable locker rooms, and golf shops stocked with quality equipment and fashionable clothing.
The spectacular golf courses here include the Dubai Country Club (sand course), Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, Nad Al Sheba Club, Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa (where Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke and others have played in challenge matches), The Montgomerie, Arabian Ranches Golf Course and the Dubai Festival City Al Badia Golf Resort.