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New World: Playing Golf in the UAE  

Golf Care, 14th January 2015

Golf in the UAE is becoming increasingly popular.  The UAE is a place where things happen on a grand scale and the proliferation of top-class golf courses and resorts that have appeared in the UAEs over the last 25 years provide evidence of that.


Until the 1950s Dubai had neither electricity nor telephone connections and only 59,000 people lived there when oil was discovered in 1966. Now Dubai is home to over two million people. It’s a hub for business and a haven for tourists. They travel for the beaches, the luxury hotels, the weather and the many and varied golf destinations in Dubai and the neighbouring Emirates.


Flying to the UAE is not nearly as stressful as you might imagine. It’s just six and a half hours from London and the time difference is only four. If you take the option of flying overnight, then jet lag shouldn’t be an issue. Here’s our guide to just some of the different types of courses where you can play golf in the UAE.


Dubai’s Desert Miracle

In 1986 His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the construction of a golf course in the desert on the edge of Dubai. “The Desert Miracle,” was to be the first all–grass championship course in the Gulf. The Majlis course at the Emirates Club opened two years later.


The European tour heads to the UAE in just two days’ time for the start of the start of the lucrative ‘Desert Swing’, three consecutive tournaments will be played over lush and manicured courses in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai (including The Majlis course at the Emirates Club & The Abu Dhabi Golf Club).


Read our preview where we take a look at what to expect from the Desert Swing 2015 – the courses, the players and the history.


The European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic has been held at the Emirates Club on 23 occasions, the last one of which Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher won for the second year running.


Sculpted around and through the dunes, the fairways make their way past lakes, desert areas and indigenous plant life on this marvellous track that was once surrounded by desert but is now overlooked by skyscrapers.


Like The Emirates Club, the Dubai Creek Golf Club is managed under the “Dubai Golf” banner. It was host venue for the Dubai Desert Classics of 1999 and 2000. Opened for play in 1993, but redesigned in 2004, it’s a layout where water is a significant threat on most holes. The Creek itself comes into play on the 6th, 17th and 18th.


Impressive projects

Dubai Sports City is a perfect example of Dubai’s ambitious construction plans. It’s a huge development housing 65,000 people, boasting multiple stadia and, naturally, a championship golf course – The Els Club. This is where the Grand Final of the Golf Care Matchplay Championship takes place.


Designed by three-time Major winner Ernie Els, the layout at The Els Club features sweeping and generous fairways, sprawling bunkers and testing green complexes that place a great emphasis on the short game.


Opened for play in 2002, The Montgomerie Dubai was designed by Colin Montgomerie together with Desmond Muirhead. The course covers a total of 265 acres, 49 of which are made up of man-made lakes.


Championship layouts

Armchair golf fans will recognise Jumeirah Estates’ Earth Course. Designed by Greg Norman, it has played host to the European Tour’s season-ending Dubai World Championship since 2009.


Norman also designed The Fire Course at Jumeirah Estates. It’s, perhaps, slightly more forgiving than the Earth Course and has a visually striking layout with changes in elevation and rough-edged bunkers. This is a track that takes influence from links courses but also pays homage to the beauty of the surrounding desert.


Ambitious Abu Dhabi Golf Club

Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest of the seven United Arab Emirates and is the country’s capital. It’s a dynamic state that’s expanding rapidly, attracting business and tourism alike.


Abu Dhabi Golf Club, with its iconic falcon-shaped clubhouse, has been home to the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship for the last nine years. The greens here are fast and true, the bunkers sprawling white expanses and the water seems to have a terrifyingly magnetic appeal. But, with five teeing options, this is a course that will suit golfers of all abilities who come to play golf in the UAE.


The Abu Dhabi Golf Club is also hosting the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship starting on the 15th January, read out preview here.


A desert links

Designed by Kyle Phillips, the architect responsible for the renowned layout at Kingsbarns in Fife, Yas Links on Yas Island pays tribute to the great British and Irish seaside courses.


With rolling fairways pock-marked with clever bunkering, stunning views of the sea and an ever-present breeze, the course captures the rugged essence of links golf.


There’s a superb, Gary Player-designed, course at Saadiyat Beach. Laid out in a figure of eight, the course features an extremely eclectic selection of holes. The par-3s are of particular note with the 242 yard 6th, played right along the beach, a standout.


Golf elsewhere in the UAE

Ras al-Khaima to the north of Dubai is home to two excellent courses: Al Hamra, an impressive layout created by the redistribution of an astonishing 5 million cubic metres of earth, and Tower Links, set in a mangrove reserve with views to the Hajjar Mountains.


The UAE is a land of contrasts, blending history and culture with cutting-edge modernity. It’s now a firm favourite with British tourists, particularly those who travel with their golf clubs. There’s a superb selection of courses to try, all maintained in incredible condition.


As the weather turns for the worse in the UK, playing golf in the UAE is perfect to catch some winter sun and play some wonderful courses. Remember to check that your insurance covers you for playing golf in UAE before you go to ensure that nothing spoils your trip. Click here to get instant worldwide golf insurance quote.

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