The world’s number one golfer, England’s Lee Westwood, sets course for major success at this week’s new-look Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, as he takes on the event’s strongest-ever line-up.
Running 20-23 January at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, this year’s £1.69 million tournament boasts all four current 2010 Major champions - Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymner, who is also the current Abu Dhabi champion - as well as double champion, Paul Casey.
Taking time out from the sweeping greens of the championship’s National Course, the six superstars joined newly-appointed European Ryder Cup captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, for a sail with the emirate’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team, which will compete in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race which stops in Abu Dhabi next New Year’s day.
(Westwood Ho! World Number 1 charts course for major Abu Dhabi success)
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s wide-ranging responsibilities include managing the development of the emirate’s tourism industry and the marketing and promotion of the emirate as a world-class destination of distinction. Other responsibilities include destination marketing, infrastructure and product development.
A key role is to create synergy in the international promotion of Abu Dhabi through close co-ordination with the emirate’s hotels, destination management companies, airlines and other public and private sector travel-related organisations.
Abu Dhabi is a diverse destination with 400 kilometres of coastline, over 200 natural islands, ancient and picturesque oases, dramatic desertscapes and a vibrant island city which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The emirate now has a compelling golfing infrastructure with three, all-grass championship courses and an 18-hole all-grass course in its Oasis City of Al Ain.
To coincide with the tournament, City.Mobi is launching abudhabi.mobi – this definitive guide provides everything fans need to know about the burgeoning emirate, from football scores and entertainment info to booking hotels and airport transfers.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is the latest in an illustrious line-up of sporting events held in Abu Dhabi over the past year.
This includes the second F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – a sell-out race won by Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, who was crowned the youngest drivers champion in Formula One history.
(Sebastian Vettel at a press conference after winning the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
During the same month, Abu Dhabi picked up a host of top titles at the World Travel Awards 2010 Grand Final. These included Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) being voted “World’s Leading Tourist Board”, national carrier Etihad Airways picking up “World’s Leading Airline”, and Emirates Palace scooping “World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel”.
(World Travel Award winner, Emirates Palace, hosted the Laureus World Sport Awards 2010)
Abu Dhabi’s world-class credentials
ADTA has developed a strategy to utilise high-visibility sporting events to globally promote the emirate. It has proved effective in internationally highlighting the emirate’s pedigree as a world-class destination of distinction and a major events hub.
Abu Dhabi Golf Club is home to the annual European Tour-backed Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and is managed by Troon Golf, one of the sport’s foremost luxury brands.
Abu Dhabi has also recently opened two new world-class golfing properties in the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and the Kyle Phillips-designed Yas Links, as well as the newly-upgraded Palm Sports Resort Golf Course in the emirate’s Oasis City of Al Ain.
These courses have already garnered strong interest internationally and continue to attract high-end tourists, which are of great interest to the emirate. For example, on average, golf visitors spend more than double than any other type of holiday maker, and notch up about US$26.1 billion a year on golf travel, 75 percent of which goes to the hotel, transportation and food and beverage sectors.
Sport tourism – the fastest growing sector of travel
Abu Dhabi also reinforced its Sport Tourism credentials by being a key exhibitor at this year’s World Sport Destination in Johannesburg. Co-hosted alongside the FIFA World Cup, WSDE provide a forum for top decision-makers within the industry to secure future business deals and source new contacts and markets, as well as gain invaluable insights from the advanced knowledge of market leaders.
(Faisal Abdulla Al Sheikh, Events Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, exhibiting at the inaugural World Sport Destination Expo, Johannesburg 2010)
As well as the F1 Grand Prix, the Yas Marina Circuit also plays host to some of the world’s top motor racing series year round including the GP2 Asia Series and Australia’s legendary motor racing series, the V8 Supercars. This year top fuel dragsters made their Middle East debut at the International Drag Racing Festival.
(The Yas Marina Circuit at sunset)
Opportunities at Yas Marina Circuit extend well beyond the Grand Prix, with the Circuit being a state-of-the-art mixed-use venue that can be adapted to meet any event, exhibition or conference.
Enhanced infrastructure is a key legacy benefit of the staging of international sporting events.
Abu Dhabi prides itself on its sponsorship partnerships with the private sector. The Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, staged every December, is a case in point. It brings together a whole host of supporters – private and public sector oriented.
(The Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge)
ADTA also supports the President of the UAE Cup, an annual series devoted to the racing of Arabian thoroughbreds which raises awareness of this distinct equestrian breed which places a huge role in the heritage and culture of the United Arab Emirates. Taking place throughout Europe and in the US this year, the series gives us a key platform to entertain guests and media.
‘Arabian tent’ style promotions are also held for visitors at races in France, Ireland, the UK, Russia and the US where they can engage with Abu Dhabi’s warm and rich heritage through a number of initiatives such as falconry and henna demonstrates and award-winning photographic displays.
(The Abu Dhabi Irish Guineas)
Growing importance of Abu Dhabi
Last November, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Abu Dhabi for the first time since 1979 as part of a concerted attempt to boost British presence in the region. The royal couple were greeted by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and several UAE ministers.
Her first engagement was to pay her respects to the late ruler and UAE founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan whom she was a guest of for her first visit.
(The Queen and Prince Philip arrive at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi to pay their respects to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan)
The Queen also visited Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, where she was welcomed H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
For more information about Abu Dhabi’s sporting and events calendar visit www.visitabudhabi.ae